Everyone has his/her cooking specialty. For me, it's making something new out of leftovers.
Tonight, I decided to make mussels fra diavolo with linguine, because I had leftover steamed mussels and a few clams in their steaming liquid, pizza sauce from making pizza (a seasoned thick tomato sauce, almost like tomato paste), half of a heirloom tomato, and half a package of grape tomatoes. I also had fresh parsley, basil, garlic, and Chardonnay.
The spicy kick of fra diavolo, contributed by a generous dose of red pepper flakes, complemented the brininess of the mussels and the acidity of the tomatoes. I particularly enjoyed the grape tomatoes, as their plump and sweet bursts of flavor brightened up the dish. When I make this dish purposefully, instead of out of leftovers, I will add the grape tomatoes for sure.
I don't have a recipe as much as a technique I can share:
Steamed mussels with its liquid
Take mussels out of their liquid and their shells, saving a few in their shells for presentation if desired. Strain the mussel liquid.
Heat a large skillet over medium heat. When hot, add olive oil, garlic and red pepper flakes. Saute for a minute, making sure the garlic doesn't burn. Add about a cup of wine and the mussel liquid, along with Italian seasoning. Let simmer and reduce by half.
When pasta water reaches a boil, add a generous amount of salt to the water, let it come to a boil, and add linguine. Cook according to the package directions, although be prepared to take it out a minute before it's fully cooked.
While the pasta is boiling, add enough tomato paste to the wine liquid to thicken it and have enough for the linguine. Add tomatoes and mussels to warm through. Taste and adjust seasonings.
When linguine is almost cooked, add it to the pasta sauce so it can finish cooking in the sauce. Add parsley and basil to garnish. Enjoy.