Recipe: Lemon pasta with mussels and Italian sausage

Fresh sweet mussels, garlicky Italian sausage, salty olives, earthy mushrooms and lemon pasta create a balanced weeknight dish.

Food forum

EVERETT — It’s a weeknight as I write this. The last thing I ate was ramen and an apple for lunch, so I’m pretty darn hungry.

And after writing out this week’s Forum recipe, I really wish I had some fresh mussels and Italian sausages on hand.

This lemon pasta recipe has all the makings of a delicious weeknight dinner (or weekend brunch): It comes together quickly, is filling and packed with flavor, and you can grab all the ingredients from the grocery story on the way home from work.

“The fresh sweet mussels, garlicky Italian sausage, salty olives, earthy mushrooms and lemon pasta all blend well to create a wonderful dish,” reader Michael Barmuta writes. “The fusion of northern and southern Italian ingredients combine to create harmonious flavors.”

The trick to this recipe is to pre-cook the sausages and lemon in the pasta water, something I’ve never done before! Barmuta said this helps to season the water and add flavor to the pasta. Don’t worry: You’ll brown the sausages later in a hot pan.

Fresh Mussels with Italian Sausage in Lemon Pasta

Serves four


1 lemon cut in half

1 pound fresh pork Italian sausage, 4 to 6 links

1 pound fettuccine pasta

2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more to finish

6 ounces crimini mushrooms, quartered

1 teaspoons red pepper flakes

4 cloves garlic minced

1 28-ounce can crushed Italian tomatoes

1 tablespoon Italian seasoning

1 tablespoon sugar

4 whole fresh sage leaves (optional)

4 ounces chicken (or seafood) broth

4 ounces dry white wine (such as Fume Blanc)

1 pound fresh mussels

4 ounces stuffed green olives

1 ounce liquid from olives

½ cup parsley, chopped

1 baguette cut on bias, toasted

Salt and pepper, to taste


Bring 4 quarts of salted water to a hard simmer. Add ½ lemon and the Italian sausage links to the water. Simmer 4 to 5 minutes. This will season the water to add flavor to the pasta. Remove and discard lemon, reserve sausages for the sauce. Bring water to a boil and add pasta. Cook 8 to 9 minutes until slightly under cooked. Reserve one cup of cooking water. Drain pasta.

While the pasta is cooking, add 2 tablespoons olive oil to a hot pan. Add red pepper flakes and mushrooms and saute for 4 to 5 minutes on medium high heat. Add garlic and reserved sausages, lightly browning for 2 to 3 minutes. Add crushed tomatoes, Italian seasoning, sugar and sage leaves, and cook for an additional 2 to 3 minutes. Add broth, wine and mussels, then cook on high for 2 to 3 minutes until mussels open. Add drained pasta, olives, olive liquid, the zest and juice of the other ½ of lemon, and parsley. Toss and cook 1 to 2 minutes. Let stand 3 to 4 minutes to allow flavors to develop and pasta to finish cooking. You may need to add some of the reserved pasta cooking water to adjust viscosity. It should be a little “soupy.” Add salt and pepper to taste, as needed.

Remove and discard sage leaves. Serve sauced pasta with mussels into large flat rim bowls. Ladle in more sauce. Make sure each one gets a sausage. Drizzle with olive oil to finish, then place 3 to 4 pieces of crostini around the bowl to dip in the liquid while eating.

Talk to us

More in Food & Drink

Daily Herald food, drink and restaurant reporter Taylor Goebel.
Our food writer bids farewell

Taylor Goebel shares news of her departure, as well as her favorite moments as The Herald’s food & drink reporter.

Food forum
Baked pumpkin is a velvety winter treat, as a side or a main

Pecans, cinnamon, brown sugar and butter liven up roasted pumpkin and other winter squashes.

The crab doughnut at Market in Edmonds is a strange delight, with a sweet and dense glazed doughnut topped with bright and briny dungeness crab salad, nutty browned butter and a shower of smoky bacon bits. (Taylor Goebel / The Herald)
This idyllic dining destination is right in Snohomish County

Edmonds boasts fresh seafood, Caribbean-inspired sandwiches, artisan breads, cocktails and more.

Food forum
Too many Thanksgiving leftovers? Make turkey “glop”

Our reader adapted this turkey casserole from an old Betty Crocker recipe.

Rachael Grace Sobczak, owner of Water Tank Bakery, is sharing her recipe for Dulce de Leche Pumpkin Bars Burlington, Washington on October 10, 2022.  (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Signature Dish: Give thanks for dulce de leche pumpkin bars

A Burlington baker shares her recipe for the triple-threat treat using Washington-milled flour.

Della Terra, a Snohomish farm-to-table catering business, is offering a full Thanksgiving meal with hearty Pacific Northwest entrees, seasonal sides and a farmers market salad. (Joanna Monger Photography)
Thanksgiving Day: Snohomish County restaurants open for dine-in or takeout

These Snohomish County restaurants are offering Thanksgiving meals for dine-in or takeout.

Food forum
Easy holiday cranberry cake with hot butter sauce

This tart yet buttery cake is the perfect solution to excess cranberries this holiday season.

A pint of In the Shadows’ HBL — Honey Basil Lemon — blonde ale, which took home a bronze medal in the 2022 Washington Beer Awards. (Aaron Swaney)
Tiny but mighty: These Snohomish County breweries won big at Washington Beer Awards

Check out this year’s Washington Beer Awards winners from Snohomish County.

A quarter of a smoked chicken at The Kitchen at Quil Ceda Creek Casino, with classic barbecue sides.
Smoked chicken’s barbecue flavors dazzle on rainy fall days

You can smoke the bird like they do at Quil Ceda Creek Casino, or prepare it in a conventional oven.

The veggie tofu pho at Phở Thanh Na in Monroe is chock-full of tender-crisp broccoli and carrots, bright aromatics and a light, flavorful broth that acts as a canvas for fresh bean sprouts, herbs, lime, chili oil and sriracha. (Taylor Goebel / The Herald)
Good soup: Where to find chowder, pho and more belly-warming bowls

These Snohomish County eateries are the perfect soup stops on a cold fall (or winter) day.

Pot and sweet pies await customers at the newly opened Pie Dive Bar in Snohomish, Washington on May 17, 2022. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Order your Thanksgiving pie ASAP from these Snohomish County bakeries

It’s already time to get your Thanksgiving dessert orders in.

Food forum
Warm up with pumpkin chocolate chip cookies

Together with the wind and rain, these cookies are a sure sign fall has arrived.