Instead of ditaloni, a small tube shape said to be the same size as the small, sweet mussels, I used conchiglie instead. The name, meaning 'shell' in Italian made perfect sense to use them with the mussels; there's something quite satisfying in removing the mussels from their proper shells to be but back in with some edible ones.
Though a fairly time-consuming recipe, it's definitely a keeper. Despite the cream, it tastes light and fresh but luxurious too. The shells are very good at scooping up the sauce and hiding mussels within them. Of course I had to put my own spin on it and add some lemon zest for some citrus flavour that I find essential with seafood.
Serves 3 (the River Cafe recipe says 4 but 2 of us finished it and were slightly stuffed, so I've compromised at 3)
1 kg mussels
2 cloves of garlic
170ml double cream
120ml white wine
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
4 tbsp flatleaf parsley, chopped finely
1 tsp lemon juice
Scrub and debeard the mussels. Discard any with a cracked shell, or if they're open and they don't close with a firm tap. Chop the garlic finely and add half the butter to a large pan with the olive oil. Once frothing, add the garlic, mussels and the white wine and cook with a lid on, high heat, until all the mussels open - a few minutes.
Take off the heat and strain, reserving the mussel juices. Pick the mussels from their shells and discard the shells.
Meanwhile, put a pan of water on to boil for the pasta. Cook until just under al dente.
Add the cream to the mussel juices with the other half of the butter and simmer to reduce. Once the pasta is done, drain well reserving a couple tablespoons of the pasta water. Add the pasta to the cream mixture and cook for a further couple of minutes until the pasta is just done, then add in the lemon juice and mussels. Stir a few times for the mussels to warm in the sauce, then add the parsley and take off the heat. Season and serve.