Anna Ugarte-Carral's fregola and mussels

Anna Ugarte-Carral's soupy mussel pasta.
Anna Ugarte-Carral's soupy mussel pasta. Photo: William Meppem

The head chef at The Old Fitz in Sydney's Woolloomooloo shares an old restaurant family-meal favourite. Anna's tip: cool the mussels slowly so they don't shrink.


  • 2kg mussels
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 whole garlic clove, plus 5 cloves, minced
  • 200ml white wine
  • 2 onions, sliced
  • 1 large bulb fennel, sliced
  • 2 anchovies, or more to taste
  • 500g toasted fregola
  • 1 bunch parsley, leaves finely chopped, stems reserved
  • 20g preserved lemon peel, finely chopped
  • zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 100g butter, cold, cubed
  • 1 tbsp dried chilli flakes


  1. Wash mussels very well in cold water.
  2. Place a large, lidded pot over high heat. Once hot, add the oil. Use the back of a knife to smash the whole garlic clove on a board. Add the smashed clove and the parsley stems to the oil.
  3. Dump the mussels in and add a generous glug of white wine – you might need to do this in two batches depending on the size of your pot. Put the lid on, shaking every 30 seconds, until the mussels just start to open, about 2-3 minutes.
  4. Tip the mussels out into a colander placed over a large bowl and cover with a tea towel to cool.
  5. While the mussels are cooling, add another 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the same pot over low-medium heat and add the onions, fennel, anchovies, 4 cloves of minced garlic and a pinch of salt. Put the lid on and cook until everything becomes soft, about 5 minutes.
  6. Remove the lid and continue to cook until the liquid has evaporated and onions and fennel become caramelised. Remove from heat.
  7. Shuck mussels and remove beards. Roughly chop. Strain the reserved liquid into a small jug to remove any broken shells/beard.
  8. Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil. Cook fregola for about 5 minutes, until al dente. Drain, and return to the pot with the onion and fennel.
  9. Add the chopped mussels and reserved mussel liquid to the pot. Stir over low heat to warm everything through. Add the chopped parsley, the last minced clove of garlic, preserved lemon, and lemon zest and juice. Remove from heat, and stir through the cold butter. The mix should be a little soupy. Crack in a fair amount of black pepper and add the dried chilli. Serve with more chilli on the side for those who like it hot.

Serves 4

This recipe is from episode five of Good Food's new TV show, Good Food Kitchen, screening on Channel 9 at 1pm on Saturday, November 6, or catch up on 9Now.