Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Pasta with Mussels and Chorizo

I am, for perhaps the last time, clacking away at my keyboard while enjoying the view from my window.  The dark night sky punctuated by a number of blinking exclamation points…buildings with a multitude of windows, some lit, some dark.  The view one can expect in a city.  A view one can choose to embrace, or to bemoan. 

I choose to embrace it.  It’s not perfect, as city life is certainly far from perfection, but it is mine.  I choose to see the sparkling windows, peeks into other peoples' lives, making me feel more connected to the world, than separated by all these walls of concrete.  I choose to see the drugstore and the Korean grocer down the street, conveniences that make my life so much easier, instead of the traffic and incessant horn-blowing.  I choose to see the movies that C and I can watch, or not, at a moment’s notice, instead of the lack of outdoor activities and the pollution that would make it difficult in any case.

But why is this perhaps the last time I am enjoying the view?  Well, as the family grows, and we make room for our new addition, some things are likewise forgone.  My office being the first in that category.  In the interest of little H having a room of his own we are turning my office into his nursery and I will now be working in…a closet.  It’s not as bad as all that.  We’ve transformed out semi-walk-in into a semi-office and it is actually shaping up quite promising.  Maybe I’ll post pictures when it is done to encourage and inspire all flat-dwellers out there that all is not lost just because we don’t have that wide expanse of space that house and country dwellers enjoy. 

Anyway, here I am, clacking away again, because I couldn’t let this day pass without wishing every last one of you a very merry Christmas!  I know I haven’t posted in a while (now if only I could have a penny for every time I’ve said that), but consider this a Christmas miracle.  A Christmas gift.  And a hopeful leap towards more posts in the New Year.

Another thing I love about my city are the small neighborhood markets that bring fresh produce and artisan wares from whence they came to our busy urban tangle.  Two such products are used in this recipe.  Fresh mussels from one of the two seafood vendors I buy from, and Spanish chorizo from two sisters who lived in Spain and are now back here and are making chorizos themselves.

Pasta with Mussels and Chorizo
  • Olive oil
  • 500 grams linguine (or any long pasta of your choice)
  • 1 kilo mussels
  • 300 grams Spanish chorizo (about 3), chopped
  • 6-8 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup (or thereabouts) white wine
  • 1 small bunch of parsley, leaves picked and roughly chopped, and stems finely chopped
  • 1 small bunch of basil, leaves picked
  • optional: dried chili flakes

- Cook pasta in a big pot of rapidly boiling and well salted water.
- While the pasta is cooking, get on with your chorizo and mussels.  Heat a large skillet (one that will fit all the chorizo, mussels, and pasta) over medium high heat.  When the pan is hot, add a couple of swirls of olive oil.  Add the garlic, parsley stems, and chorizo.  Sauté until the chorizo is lightly browned and has released its orange paprika-infused oil – this shouldn’t take long. If your chorizo seems to exude an alarming amount of oil you can take some out at this point – just remember that you will need some of that oil to create the sauce so leave a good amount back.
- Add the mussels to the chorizo in the pan and toss until the mussels are slicked with oil.  Add the wine and chopped parsley leaves and cover.  Cook for about 5 minutes, shaking the pan a few times, until the mussels have opened.
- While the mussels are cooking test your pasta for doneness.  The packet usually says 12 minutes but test after 10.  You want the pasta to still be a smidge underdone, as it will carry on cooking when you transfer it to the mussels.  Once it has reached that point, drain, saving some of the pasta water.
- Check to see if your mussels are done.  If most have already opened, tip the cooked pasta noodles into the pan with the mussels and chorizo and toss well to get all the pasta coated in the liquid (which is now a heavenly combination of chorizo oil, white wine, and mussel juices).  Add the basil leaves and toss again.  The pasta will suck up most of the liquid, and will continue to do so even off the heat.  If it starts to look dry add some of the pasta cooking water.
- Take the pan off the heat and enjoy immediately.

I love the combination or shellfish and chorizo (including shrimp and chorizo…yum) and this dish plays off that perfect marriage excellently.  Since there are so few ingredients here try to get the best you can.  The smoky chorizo, plump mussels, and fresh herbs work wonders together.  This is the kind of dish I like to make on a weekend when we are all at home and I come from the market with my bag bursting with fresh things.  It makes me feel closer to nature despite the buildings and cars and congestion that tell me otherwise.

With my beloved city, with my new closet-office, with the coming New Year, and with life…I am choosing to embrace, to endeavor to be Ms. Brightside, as corny as that sounds.  Life is too short and can be filled with too many potholes and pessimists.  There is much I am grateful for and more that I am looking forward to.  And good food to share is definitely one of those. 

All the best Christmas and New Years wishes to you and yours.  See you in 2014!


Ling said...

Merry Christmas to you and yours, Joey - and wishing you a fantastic 2014 too!


sneakylopsidedgrin said...

Merry Christmas!

I always see you on Salcedo Market :)

Do you ever think about making a book of 80 breakfasts? that would be a cool coffee table book if you'd consider it :)

Midge said...

A Merry Christmas and a Blessed New Year to you as well, Joey. <3

ARthur in the Garden! said...


Dan George said...

This pasta with mussels and chorizo looks amazing. Your food pictures truly eye-catching. Thanks Dan from

Brian said...

I love pasta. I am going to tell my wife about this. I think she will really like this recipe.

Jeff @ said...

Chorizo with pasta sounds so delicous. Happy new year Joey!

ChichaJo said...

Thanks Ling! All the best to you as well in 2014!!

Hi Sneakylopsidedgrin! Really?? Say hi next time! :) I am honored you think I could write a book! Maybe one day!

Best wishes for 2014 to you Midge! :)

Thanks Arthur! :)

Hi Dan! Thank you!

Hi Brian! I hope your wife liked it too!

Thanks Jeff! A happy new year to you as well! :)