Spicy Mussel Marinara with Pappardelle

Today’s Spicy Mussel Marinara with Pappardelle is brought to by an excess of enthusiasm. You see, this dish came about when Bae and I discovered he likes mussels. Unfortunately, he discovered this when I had a plate of Moules Frites in front of me at a very nice restaurant. To say I was “protective” of my plate for the rest of the meal would be an understatement. And although I had to watch his fork like a hawk, I spent the rest of that evening positively elated. Sunny does not do seafood apart from fish and chips and spicy tuna rolls. I am from Nova Scotia and I have the palette to match. You can see the conflict.

Jump to Recipe

Now, I am a blessed, food-loving human who is capable of eating and enjoying just about anything. There really isn’t anything I would not eat. Sure, there are a few things that are not my favorite – I’m looking at you eggplant – but there isn’t anything I would flat out refuse. And, most seafood aside, Sunny is very much the same and he’s always willing to try something once. I am not the type of person who will scoff at someone for not liking something. Not liking an ingredient says nothing about you other than you don’t like that ingredient. End of story.

Heirloom cherry tomatoes
Cooking Tomatoes Down for Spicy Mussel Marinara

So, don’t cry for me foodies of the Internet, I really don’t have it that bad. Sunny is an adventurous eater that puts very few limitations on our week’s worth of meals. He just doesn’t do much from the sea. I am far from deprived. But I have to admit when his eyes brightened at the taste of that mussel, there was 20-piece marching band stomping through my heart triumphantly. It felt like a whole new world had opened up. And now you know how much of my happiness hinges on mealtimes. And yes, you should be concerned.

Adding white wine
Adding the mussels to the marinara

When you’ve written off an ingredient from your home cooking inventory, it’s easy to forget it exists. But when the prodigal foodstuff unexpectedly returns to the fold, it’s easy to overdo it. This is where my head is right now. For instance, when I bought the mussels for this Spicy Mussel Marinara with Pappardelle, I easily bought enough mussels to feed four as a main and six as a starter. We are a household of two, always have been always will be. What on earth was I thinking?

Mussels in Spicy Marinara

And then there’s the matter of frequency. As much as I think we will want mussels every meal, I am probably wrong in that assumption because that is straight-up crazy. I had so many meal ideas involving mussels and I seemed keen to make every one of them within a two week period. Like, what is wrong with me? Did I think I was dying or something? Finally, for the sake of my sanity and in the interest of variety, I widdle the extensive mussel-happy meal list down to one. And the winner was this Spicy Mussel Marinara with Parppadelle.

Spicy Mussel Marinara Sauce

In my opinion, this pasta dish came into my life at just the right time. I hit this breaking point every summer when I’ve had my fill of salads and BBQ’d delicacies and all I want is pasta. Not a pasta salad. An honest-to-god bowl of steaming hot pasta. Seriously, you could set your watch to this craving. I know we’re approaching the middle of August when Mac & Cheese is the only thing I can think about.

Serving the Parppardelle
Spooning on the mussels

Listen, I get that the summer is a low pasta moment. And I get that pasta is not hard done by. I know it rules every other season but, damn, even a month away feels like too long. If you share this sentiment, this Spicy Mussel Marinara is most definitely for you.

Spicy Mussel Marinara with Pappardelle

Now, I will say that this Spicy Mussel Marinara is as close to summer-friendly as pasta gets. The sauce is comprised of fresh, locally grown heirloom cherry tomatoes cooked down to a jammy consistency. And there is something about mussels that screams patio. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll have moules frites in any season on any day of the week. But mussels do make me think of sunshine, chilled white wine, and a laid-back vibe. In other words, Summer with a capital S.

Spicy Mussel Marinara with Pappardelle

There is nothing difficult about this Spicy Mussel Marinara. It requires little more than light sauteing and patience. I understand if you feel it should wait for slightly cooler weather, as the sauce does need some time to simmer and if you’re sans air conditioning that could mean the difference between a very good day and a very bad day. So, assess your current environmental conditions before proceeding.

Spicy Mussel Marinara with Pappardelle

So, that’s everything you need to know about this soul-restoring Spicy Mussel Marinara with Parppadelle. It’s everything you need in a summertime pasta and then some.



Spicy Mussel Marinara with Pappardelle

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Servings 4


  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 sweet onion diced
  • 5 cloves garlic minced
  • 1-2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes depending on your heat tolerance
  • 1 tsp dried oregano heaping
  • 907g (2 lbs) Heirloom cherry tomatoes smaller ones halved, larger ones quartered
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 907g (2 lbs) fresh mussels scrubbed, beards removed
  • 454g (1 lb) dried pappardelle
  • 2 tbsp fresh basil chiffonade
  • 1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup pecorino cheese shredded


  • Pour the olive oil into a large, deep skillet. Place the skillet over medium heat and heat until the oil is shimmering. Add the onion and reduce the heat to low. Sprinkle liberally with salt and sweat the onions until translucent, about 7-8 minutes.
  • Stir the garlic into the onions and saute until fragrant, about 3 minutes more. Stir in the crushed red pepper flakes, and oregano. Increase the heat to medium and saute for 2-3 minutes.
  • Add the tomatoes to the pan and sprinkle with salt. Cook, stirring constantly until they release most of their juices, about 5 minutes. Pour in the wine and bring the sauce to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Leave the sauce to simmer for 20-30 minutes or until the tomatoes reach a jammy consistency. You want the sauce to be quite thick because the mussels will release a lot of water.
  • In the last 10 minutes of the sauce's cooking time, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Liberally salt the water and add the pappardelle. Cook the pasta according to the package's directions. Drain and rinse the pasta and set aside.
  • Once the sauce has cooked down enough, stir in the balsamic vinegar and add the mussels. Bring the sauce back up to a boil, then cover and reduce to a simmer. Cook the mussels until the shells open and the mussels are cooked through, about 3-4 minutes. Sprinkle the finished sauce with fresh basil and parsley.
  • Place a bed of pasta in four bowls. Spoon the mussels and sauce over top. Finish each bowl with a sprinkling of pecorino cheese and serve immediately with a crisp white wine or a cold lager.

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