Black bean spaghetti with mussel sauce
from FreeFrom all'Italiana - Primi by Anna del Conte
Wheat, gluten, dairy, corn, soya, egg, nut free


Anna: We used this sauce to dress black bean spaghetti and decided it was perfect, but it is such a good sauce that we are sure it would work well with any other gluten-free pasta.
Michelle: Pulse-based pastas are now becoming quite common. They tend to have a rather different, coarser texture than wheat, corn or rice-based pasta and a fairly vigorous flavour, so are best matched with strong-flavoured sauces such as this. If pushed for time, you could use frozen mussels—although the flavour will not be quite as good, it will still be pretty spectacular.

Serves 4

400g black bean spaghetti
1kg fresh mussels in their shells, or 500g frozen mussels

If you are using fresh mussels:
1 lemon, cut in half
3 garlic cloves, squashed and peeled
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

For the sauce:
1 tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed
½ tsp flaked chilli (or more, according to taste)
3 tbsp flatleaf parsley, chopped
1 tbsp Sacla’ Free From Basil Pesto (contains soya and cashew nuts)
150ml white wine
a squeeze or two of lemon juice
sea salt

First prepare the fresh mussels or defrost the frozen mussels, reserving their juices.

For the fresh mussels:
Mussels these days are usually sold already clean; if not, wash them in a sink of cold water, scrubbing them hard, removing barnacles and beard. Remove and throw away any mussel which remains open when you tap it on a hard surface—that means that it is dead. Put the lemon halves, 3 garlic cloves and 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large sauté pan with a tight fitting lid, add the mussels and put the lid on the pan.

Put the pan on a high heat and cook for 4–5 minutes, shaking it occasionally to allow all the mussels to get in touch with the bottom of the pan. All the mussels should be open by now. As soon as they are cool enough to touch, remove the flesh from the shells, letting the lovely juices fall back into the pan.

Put the clean mussels in a bowl and discard the shells and the lemon. Have a look at the juices. If there is some grit at the bottom of the pan, strain the juices through a fine sieve. Nowadays mussels are mostly farmed, so not very dirty; this step is not often necessary. Set the mussels aside while you cook the pasta and make the sauce.

To make the sauce:
Cook the pasta in plenty of well-salted boiling water according to the instructions on the pack.

Fresh or defrosted mussels: while the pasta is cooking, put the sauté pan back on the heat with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Heat it and add the garlic, chilli and 2 tablespoons of the parsley. Fry for 1 minute and as soon as the garlic aroma rises, add the pesto, mussel juices and wine. Boil briskly for a couple of minutes to reduce the juices by approximately one-third.

Frozen mussels: turn them into the pan, reduce the heat and cook very gently for a couple of minutes to heat the mussels through in the sauce without letting them break up.

When the pasta is ready, drain and turn it into a warmed serving bowl. Spoon the mussels over the top, sprinkle with the remaining 1 tablespoon parsley and squeeze over the lemon juice. Serve immediately.

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