Bechamel pasta with garlic mussels

Adam Liaw
Mussels with bechamel.
Mussels with bechamel. Photo: William Meppem

The pasta and sauce are an ideal base for these garlicky mussels.


500g dried penne

75g butter

1 large onion, finely chopped

2 bay leaves

60g plain flour

750ml milk

pinch of nutmeg

1 tsp fish sauce (optional)

salt and white pepper, to season

green salad, to serve

Garlic mussels

1kg mussels

25g butter

4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped

1 tbsp brandy or vermouth

2 tbsp finely chopped parsley


1. Bring a large pot of water to the boil and season. Cook pasta according to packet directions but start checking 2 minutes before the printed cooking time elapses. When cooked to al dente, scoop into a sieve and rinse under cold running water. Set aside to drain. 

2. Return the pasta water to the stove, bring back to a boil and add the mussels a few at a time, removing them as soon as they open. Extract the mussels from their shells and remove the beard.

3. Heat 25g butter in a large saucepan and fry the onion with the bay leaves until the onion becomes translucent. Add remaining 50g butter and flour, stirring until the mixture forms a roux. Add the milk a little at a time, stirring until there are no lumps of flour. Add a pinch of nutmeg and fish sauce, if using, and stir. Season well. Mix the pasta and sauce and transfer to a baking dish. 

4. Heat an overhead grill to high, place the baking dish under the grill and cook until the top of the pasta is brown. 

5. While the pasta is grilling, heat the butter for the mussels in a medium frying pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and fry until lightly browned. Add the mussels and fry for about 2 minutes, until they are just starting to firm. Add the brandy or vermouth and flambĂ©, then stir through the parsley and season. Pour the mussels over the pasta and serve with a green salad. 

Also try: Adam Liaw's roast yellow squash with anchovies and garlic

Find more of Adam Liaw's recipes in the Good Food New Classics cookbook.

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