This is an incredible feast for very little money. Mussels are among the most economical shellfish, and they are delicious. If you pick them up at a supermarket, they are cleaned and debearded. All you need to do is rinse them in cold water prior to cooking (and be sure to discard any that are broken open). If you purchase them from a fish market, cleaning may be a bit more complicated, but it’s definitely worth the effort.
You need Fines Herbs for this recipe. You can buy them in a jar all prepared, or you can make some yourself. The recipe for them follows the main recipe.
2 lbs. Mussels (cleaned and/or rinsed)
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 yellow onion (chopped)
1 fresh lemon (seeds removed; cut in quarters)
2 Roma tomatoes (seeds removed and chopped)
8 cups water
1 cup white wine
1 cup clam juice
3 tbsp. fines herbs
3 cloves garlic (coarsely chopped)
2 tsp. sea salt
1/2 cup fresh parsley (chopped; for garnish)
Loaf of Ciabatta bread (I like rosemary and olive oil), Italian bread, or garlic bread (you choose)
Use a nice, big pasta pan for this dish. Add olive oil, garlic and onions to pan. Cook for about 5 minutes. No more. The idea here is to add a bit of flavor, but not to overwhelm the flavor of the delicate mussels.
Add the water, salt, fines herbs, clam juice, tomatoes, lemons, and white wine. Heat for a bit, but do not bring to a boil. Add the cleaned mussels. I can’t give you a definitive time here. All you do is cook them until the mussels are opened. Serve in bowls with plenty of broth. That’s what the bread is for.
Great with white wine. If you’re not a white wine drinker, have some red. I’m not a believer in red for meats and red-sauce pastas; white for fish and chicken. You should be drinking what you like. The food police are not welcome on this blog, thank you very much.
I like this dish with an arugula salad. A simple arugula salad, which means just arugula and a simple Italian dressing. I’m going to give you the recipe for the Italian dressing below also.
Spoon the mussels into individual pasta dishes, throwing some chopped parsley on top for garnish. Don’t be shy with the broth. It’s delicious. That’s why there’s bread in the recipe.
Here is the recipe for Fines Herbs.
1 tbsp. chopped tarragon
1 tbsp. chopped chervil
1 tbsp. chopped chives
1 tbsp. chopped parsley
1 tbsp. chopped marjoram
That’s it. A lot of recipes out there tell you the marjoram is optional. It isn’t in my book.
Simple Italian Dressing
This is a great dressing. I’m not a fan of heavy olive oil in my dressings. I like the light olive oils that are used for dressings and marinades. If I don’t have that on hand, I use canola oil.
McCormick makes an awesome Tuscan Seasoning. It’s a mix of black pepper, marjoram, rosemary, thyme, basil, red pepper, onion, garlic, sun-dried tomato, red bell pepper and salt. Trust me. You don’t need to create this yourself. I keep a bottle on hand all the time. It’s one of those must-have things.
1/2 cup white balsamic vinegar (or red wine vinegar)
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil (for dressings and marinades; not the one for cooking)
1/2 tsp minced garlic
2 tsp. Tuscan Seasoning
1/2 tsp. sea salt
Shake it up. It’s ready. If you’re a cheese-o-holic like me, you can put some shaved Parmesan or Asiago on your salad. If not, it’s fine without.
By the way, I love those Good Seasons cruets for dressings. I don’t use the packets, but it’s worth buying the package just to get the cruet. Keeps well in the fridge for the next time.