Fennel-and-Mussels Alfredo

This rule-breaking pasta from chef Joshua McFadden of Ava Gene’s in Portland, Oregon, will completely change your mind about dairy and seafood. The deeply sweet, creamy flavor of the anise-laced sauce perfectly compliments the brininess of the mussels.

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  • Servings: 4 to 6

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  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 
  • 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced 
  • 1 large fennel bulb, halved, cored and very thinly sliced, fronds reserved 
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper 
  • 2 pounds mussels, scrubbed 
  • 3/4 cup dry white wine 
  • 1/4 cup Pernod 
  • 1 pound linguine 
  • 1 cup heavy cream 
  • Kosher salt 
  • Black pepper
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano 

How to make this recipe

  1. In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil. Add the garlic and cook over moderate heat until it starts to brown, about 2 minutes. Add the sliced fennel and crushed red pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 3 minutes. Add the mussels, white wine and Pernod and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook until the mussels start to open, about 5 minutes; transfer the mussels to a large bowl as they open; discard any that don’t open. Don’t wipe out the saucepan.

  2. In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook the linguine until al dente. Drain well, reserving 1 cup of pasta water.

  3. In the large saucepan, whisk in the heavy cream and 3/4 cup of the pasta water and cook over moderate heat until reduced slightly, about 5 minutes; season with salt and black pepper. Stir in the linguine, mussels and 2 tablespoons of the cheese and cook, gently tossing, until the pasta is coated in a creamy sauce, about 2 minutes. Add the remaining 1/4 cup of pasta water if the sauce seems too thick. Transfer the pasta to shallow bowls and garnish with the reserved fennel fronds and the remaining 2 tablespoons of cheese. Serve immediately.

Contributed By Photo Abby Hocking / Food & Wine Published June 2017

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