Mussels, pesto, linguine. a recipe inspired by my favourite food magazine – lucky peach

Oh yes, this is a recipe to impress your guests or your boy/girlfriend/spouse, but even if it looks cosmically tasty and complicated, trust me, it is pretty easy. It is also quite quick to make as most pasta dishes.



  • 2 handfuls of mussels
  • 1 big white onion or a few shallots
  • 1 glass of white wine
  • A pinch of peperoncino or other spicy chili pepper flakes
  • Extra virgin olive oil


  • 1 handful of fresh basil
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 teaspoons pine nuts
  • A few tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Half a cup of grated Parmigiano reggiano


  • 250g linguine/spaghetti or other long pasta
  • Water to boil
  • Salt to season water
  • Parmigiano reggiano and/or Pecorino

Making pesto

This is one of the nicest “sauces” you can make to accompany aperitifs, your mozzarella, to put on your focaccia, pasta, of course!

The best way to make pesto is with a mortar and pestle but it is normal if not every household has one.

So you can use a regular food processor, just be sure to work quickly, and when using the food processor, don’t mix for too long at a time or the basil will heat up very fast and will taste more like green grass.

Making pesto is quick and easy. Mix all the ingredients together with a food processor, add olive oil as needed, the more you add, the less the basil will oxidise.

Cooking the mussels

Cooking the mussels is also quite basic and simple. Start by heating a deeper pan or a pot with olive oil, add sliced onions and sauté on a medium low heat so they become more transparent and soft, not brown and burnt!

Once the onion is cooked, about 5 min, add the mussels, the peperoncino, the glass of white wine and put on a lid so everything heats up and sautés. Do this for a few minutes until you see the mussels have opened up.

A friendly reminder, don’t serve or don’t eat the mussels that haven’t opened up, they might not be good!

Cooking the pasta and serving the dish

As I mentioned in a previous pasta post, best thing you can do is to look at the cooking time on the pack, trust me, you won’t have to eat uncooked pasta the whole time while cooking to check for the right consistency and you won’t overcook it!

In this case since we won’t heat up the pesto and we won’t be cooking it together with the sauce, cook the pasta to the minutes indicated on the pack, don’t take it off before unless you really want it harder.

I used this one, I like De Cecco, we had the luck to go visit the factory in Abruzzo while I was studying at the University of Gastronomic Sciences. I cooked it for 10 min, like indicated for pasta al dente.

How to mix everything together and serve?

In a bowl mix the recently cooked pasta with the pesto, add some of the mussel, wine and onion sauce for more juiciness so it doesn’t become dry.

Top each dish with a generous amount of mussels and an even more generous amount of grated parmigiano or pecorino, or both!

There is is! Serve it with a nice cold glass of sparkling wine like champagne, cava, some Italian Trento Doc or you know, something white and crisp 🙂

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