Serves 4 as a starter or light main course

This is rather like a spaghetti alla vongole but made with mussels. However, it's a cheaper option as clams have thick, heavy shells and by the time you have steamed and removed them from the shells, they can work out pretty expensive.

Place your mussels in a bowl of cold water before cooking and discard any open ones or any that float to the top.

4 servings of spaghetti

1kg of live mussels, bearded and washed

1 glass of white wine

2-3 medium shallots, peeled, halved and finely chopped

6tbsp olive oil

6 medium cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed

2 fresh red chillies, finely chopped, or 2tsp dried chilli flakes

200ml fish stock

150g unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

2tbsp chopped parsley

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Put the mussels in a large saucepan with the white wine, cover with a lid and cook on a high heat for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally, until they have all just opened, then drain in a colander over a bowl to reserve the cooking liquid. Strain the cooking liquor into a pan with the fish stock and simmer on a medium heat until it has reduced by two thirds of its volume. Remove about 75 per cent of the mussels from the shells and put to one side, along with the ones left in their shells.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta in boiling salted water, then strain in a colander, reserving a little of the cooking water. While the pasta is cooking, heat the olive oil in a pan and cook the shallots, garlic and chilli briefly for a minute on a low heat, then add the reduced wine and fish stock. Whisk the butter in on a low heat until it has emulsified; then season and add the parsley.

To serve, toss the spaghetti, mussels and sauce together in a pan over a medium heat and add a little of the cooking water if the pasta looks a bit dry, then serve.