Monday, March 29, 2010

Quick Monday Night Dinner: Steamed Mussels in Tomato and Garlic Broth

Mussels always seemed like one of those dishes best left to restaurants. I had visions of having to scrub away at dirty bearded mollusks (yikes, that sounds gross!), slaving over a stove and red alert potential for food poisoning. Turns out I was very, very wrong. In fact, mussels are so easy to make that I'd venture to say they have one of the best effort to impressiveness ratios out there and are easy enough for even the most novice of home cooks.

First off, mussels turn out to be very, very cheap. Whole Food was selling them this weekend for $3/lb and Publix had them for $4.99/lb. They are already cleaned and debearded so a good rinsing is all you need to do to prep them. I asked a Publix seafood department guy if their mussels were cleaned and debearded and his response was to look at me like I was insane and reply on, "these are mussels, ma'am.." Three employees later, I found someone who in fact knew something of mussels. Somehow I don't think I should be the most knowledgeable person in the seafood department, but  after the chorizo incident, nothing surprises me.

Steamed Mussels with Tomato and Garlic Broth

From Food and Wine Magazine
January 1998


  1. 1/4 cup olive oil
  2. 1 onion, chopped fine
  3. 6 cloves garlic, minced
  4. 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  5. 2 cups drained canned tomatoes in thick puree, chopped (from one 28-ounce can)
  6. 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  7. 1/4 teaspoon dried red-pepper flakes
  8. 4 pounds mussels, scrubbed and debearded
  9. 1/8 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
  10. Salt, if needed


  1. In a large pot, heat the oil over moderately low heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in the parsley, tomatoes, thyme, and red-pepper flakes. Reduce the heat and simmer, partially covered, for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  2. Discard any mussels that have broken shells or that don't clamp shut when tapped. Add the mussels to the pot. Cover; bring to a boil. Cook, shaking the pot occasionally, just until the mussels open, about 3 minutes. Remove the open mussels. Continue to boil, uncovering the pot as necessary to remove the mussels as soon as their shells open. Discard any that do not open.
  3. Stir the black pepper into the broth. Taste the broth and, if needed, add salt. Ladle the broth over the mussels and serve with the garlic toast.
Wine: Every Mediterranean country has its version of shellfish in a tomato-based broth, and the wine of choice for each is an earthy, full-bodied pink wine. 

I served the mussels in their super flavorful broth along side crusty bread for dipping and a green salad. Truly a 30 minute, one-pot dinner, and so tasty. Mussels will definitely be in the rotation from here on out!



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