Creamy Avgolemono Mussels With Pasta
This mussel and pasta dish with creamy lemony sauce is the perfect dinner recipe, whether you need to get dinner on the table fast or impress guests. Nothing says date night or dinner with friends like Mussels over pasta with a light, creamy lemony white wine sauce made with garlic, shallots, cream and avgolemono. You heard right - avgolemono - Greek lemony egg sauce that really adds a luscious flavour to just about any dish. This restaurant style lemony creamy pasta with mussels is so simple to make and done in no time and a recipe you will definitely have on repeat.
I’ve been waiting to make this dish for a while. I got the idea from Food and Wine and had their recipe for avgolemono mussels saved for a very long time. I wanted to make them but wasn’t happy serving them with rice as the recipe suggested. So I sat on it for a while until it dawned on me - what better way to enjoy that sauce and the mussels than with pasta? I don’t actually know why it took me so long to think of that one cause it seems like such a no brainer now. I adjusted the recipe according to my taste and the way I make my avgolemono and it turned into the ultimate creamy lemony pasta dish with mussels. You can make this without the pasta if you like and the sauce and mussels are still to die for - I would recommend loads of crusty bread to serve with them to sop every bit of that sauce. The sauce will be a bit thinner than it would without the pasta - just an FYI - as the pasta and the starches in the pasta help thicken it further when added.
What is Avgolemono (av-gho-lé-mo-no)
Avgolemono is a Greek sauce made from eggs, lemon, and warm broth. It’s a staple in Greek cooking. It’s added to everything from soups to meat dishes, dolmathes, roasted veggies, and over fish. It’s a really nice base for any dish that will blend well with lemon. In this case the broth is the pan liquid that the mussels cook in or the reserved pasta water. Whichever is the warmest of the two which will help temper the eggs. This sauce adds a new dimension to your basic white wine cream sauce for your mussels and pasta. Think - very lemony carbonara minus the cheese. Feel free to add cheese later if you like. The heavy whipping cream in the sauce added to the mussels adds to the richness and thickens the sauce further as it heats up and also as the pasta is tossed through it.
How to properly clean and soak mussels
Most mussels that you buy from the seafood counter at the grocery store are already cleaned and de-bearded. If you are not sure just ask. If not simply Scrub each mussel clean with a stiff brush to get rid of any barnacles, pulling off the hairy ‘beard’ that sticks out from the shell, if it has one. When you purchase your mussels, make sure to immediately unwrap them at home so they can breathe. Discard any mussel that is chipped, broken, or damaged in any way. Also, discard any mussel that is open. If you find any mussels with open shells at this point tap that mussel against the side of the sink. If the mussel closes up again in response, it’s alive. If it doesn’t move, discard it. The mussels should be tightly closed and stored in a cool area where they can breathe. Just before cooking, soak your mussels in fresh water for about 20 minutes. As the mussels breathe, they filter water and expel sand. After about 20 minutes, the mussels will have less salt and sand stored inside their shells. Rinse and then drain them and they are ready to use.
How to cook mussels in creamy lemony white wine avgolemono sauce If have never made mussels before they are incredibly easy to make. They should not intimidate you at all. Once you have them prepped as noted above they are so simple to make and you will be making them all the time after you realize just how easy they are to make. The mussels steam in the pan with the garlic, shallots and wine for 5 minutes until they have fully opened up. Discard the ones that have not opened and then you are all set to add your pasta and enjoy. Tip: Because there are always a few that don’t open up and you end up discarding a few of them - I usually buy a ½ lb extra than the recipe calls for to make up for the lost ones. That’s all there is to it.
How to make Creamy Avgolemono Mussels With Pasta
- Cook pasta, drain and set aside reserving ½ cup of pasta water
- Cook shallots and garlic in butter and olive oil
- Add wine and mussels to pan and steam along with the cream until they have completely opened - remove pan from heat
- Prepare avgolemono sauce then add it to the mussels
- Place pan back over heat (low - do NOT boil) then toss in the pasta with pasta water as needed
- Toss in the fresh herbs and serve with extra lemon wedges.
If you like this Greek-style avgolemono take on creamy mussels with pasta you will also love these recipes:
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
- 2 medium shallots peeled and minced
- Salt and pepper to taste
- ¼ teaspoon of chili fakes
- 4 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
- 2 pounds mussels, scrubbed and debearded
- ½ cup white wine
- 2 fresh bay leaves (or dried)
- ½ cup heavy whipping cream
- 2 large egg
- 6 to 7 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (from 2-3 lemons- approx 1/3 cup)
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
- 2 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 1 lb of spaghetti or bucatini pasta
- ½ cup reserved pasta cooking water
- Boil water in large stock pot and cook pasta according to package directions then drain and set aside reserving ½ cup of cooking water. Toss pasts with 1 tablespoon of olive oil if desired to prevent it from sticking, optional.
- Heat butter and olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium, heat. When it foams, add shallots, and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Add garlic, and cook, stirring often, until fragrant, about 1 minute seasoning with salt, pepper and chili flakes if using.
- Add wine, bay leaves and mussels, and cover pan. Steam until mussels open halfway, about 4 minutes. Stir mussels, and add cream. Cover and steam until mussels have opened fully, about 1 minute. (Discard any mussels that do not open.) Remove pan from heat and spoon out approx ½ cup of the hot pan juices in a cup or dish to temper eggs with. ( if the reserved pasta cooking water is still warm enough, you could use that instead - either one would work)
- In a medium bowl whisk together eggs until lighter in colour and very frothy ( I like to use a immersion blender but that is optional).
- Pour in the lemon juice to the eggs in a steady slow stream while continuing to whisk vigorously. Then pour in the reserved warm pan juices in a steady slow stream while whisking vigorously to temper the eggs before pouring them into the hot pan.
- Pour in the egg mixture to mussel pan liquid in a steady stream, stirring constantly to coat the mussels in a lightly thickened sauce. Place pan back on the heat this time over low heat - you do not want to bring liquids to a boil.
- Stir in the pasta tossing it to coat with the creamy sauce adding in the reserved pasta water as needed to loosen up the sauce. Test for seasoning and add more salt and pepper as needed. Toss with the dill and parsley, and serve immediately right from the pan with extra lemon wedges.
- Storage and Leftovers: Leftovers will keep for up to 2-3 days in a sealed container in the fridge. As with any creamy pasta dishes - they don’t reheat well unless they are rehydrated. Heat stovetop or in microwave but make sure to add a bit of broth, water, milk or cream when reheating to get a creamy consistency.
- You do not need to use the entire ½ cup fo cooking water if you don’t need it. If you want a richer sauce you can replace some of it with a bit of extra cream.
- The sauce will be VERY bright and lemony and quit delicious. If you want a tamer more subdued lemony flavour in the sauce just reduce the amount that you add to the egg mixture by a little.
- Use any pasta you like - I thin this dish works well with long pasta. Feel free to use gluten free pasta too.