- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 pound fresh hot Italian sausage, removed from casings
- 4 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 small red chile, such as finger or Fresno chile, seeded and finely chopped, or scant 1 tsp. crushed red pepper
- About 2 tbsp. tomato paste
- 1 can (28 to 32 oz.) San Marzano tomatoes (look for D.O.P. on the label)
- 1/2 cup dry or spicy red wine
- 3 tablespoons capers in brine, drained
- 1 tablespoon fresh oregano, chopped, or 1 tsp. dried oregano, lightly crushed in your palm
- 2 pounds black mussels, debearded (scrub them with a small brush under running water in a colander)
- 1 pound dried or fresh linguine
- 1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped
- 1 lemon, juiced (about 4 tbsp.)
- EVOO, for drizzling
Bring a large pot of water to a boil for the pasta.
While the water comes to a boil, in a large deep skillet with a lid, heat the olive oil, two turns of the pan, over medium-high. Add the sausage and cook, breaking up with a spoon, until browned and cooked through, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and chile; stir a minute or so. Add the tomato paste and stir until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, wine, capers and oregano. Simmer, breaking up the tomatoes with a spoon, until the sauce thickens slightly, 12 to 15 minutes. Add the mussels, then cover and cook until the mussels open, about 7 minutes (discard any mussels that do not open).
Meanwhile, salt the boiling water. If using dried pasta (my preference for this dish), add the pasta and cook to al dente. If using fresh pasta, wait until the mussels open, then add the pasta to the water. Once the water returns to a boil, cook the fresh pasta 2 minutes or so. Drain, reserving about 1/2 cup cooking water.
Toss the pasta with the mussels and sauce, adding a bit of cooking water if the sauce is too thick; season with salt and pepper. Remove from the heat and add the parsley, lemon juice and a fat drizzle of EVOO; toss with tongs. Serve in shallow bowls with smaller bowls alongside to collect the shells.