Cavatelli with Mussels, Lillet and Dill. Photo © Quentin Bacon
© Quentin Bacon

Cavatelli with Mussels, Lillet and Dill


The perfect match for this creamy cavatelli-and-mussels dish: Muscadet, a coastal wine that's superb with shellfish.

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  1. 2 pounds mussels, scrubbed
  2. 1/4 cup dry white wine
  3. 2 dill sprigs, plus 1 tablespoon chopped dill
  4. 1/4 cup Lillet or dry vermouth
  5. 3/4 cup crème fraîche
  6. 1 small shallot, minced
  7. 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  8. 1 teaspoon finely grated grapefruit zest (optional)
  9. 12 ounces fresh cavatelli
  10. Freshly ground pepper
  1. In a large saucepan, combine the mussels, wine, dill sprigs and 2 tablespoons of the Lillet and bring to a boil. Cover and steam until the mussels open, about 4 minutes. Transfer the mussels to a bowl and strain the juices into a medium bowl. Remove the mussels from their shells; discard any mussels that don't open. Rinse out the saucepan.
  2. Return the juices to the saucepan and simmer until reduced to 3/4 cup, about 5 minutes. Stir in the crème fraîche, shallot and the lemon and grapefruit zests.
  3. Meanwhile, in a large pot of salted boiling water, cook the pasta until nearly al dente; drain. Add the pasta to the saucepan along with the remaining 2 tablespoons of Lillet. Cook over high heat, stirring frequently, until the sauce is thick and creamy, about 4 minutes. Stir in the mussels and chopped dill and season the pasta with pepper. Serve right away.

Suggested Pairing

Briny, crisp Muscadet.