Mussels

Living in a coastal state I know we should take advantage of the fresh seafood available to us.  We don’t do it nearly enough though.  This summer I resolved to do better, and for the most part, have.  Some variety of seafood has made it onto the menu at least once a week and it’s really been a nice change from the usual rotation of chicken, pork and ground turkey.  Last week, I bought mussels for the first time ever after having seen this recipe in my most recent issue of Cooking Light.  I’ve eaten them before, but this was my first time working with them.  I researched how to store them once I got them home from the store (in a large bowl in the refrigerator with a damp kitchen towel covering the bowl) and also discovered that you should discard any that don’t have tightly closed shells before cooking (if they’re open, you can try lightly tapping them to see if they close – if so, they’re fine but if they stay open, discard).

Mussels

This dish comes together easily in one pan, though I do recommend using a very large skillet.  My 12″ skillet was so full I had trouble tossing all of the ingredients together at the end without making a mess all over my stove.  Next time I’ll go with my Dutch oven.  We didn’t have white wine on hand, so I subbed chicken stock, and it worked perfectly.  I have no doubt the wine would have been even more tasty, but I was trying to work with what I had.  The dish is colorful and flavorful, inexpensive and so quick to throw together – a winner on all fronts!    

Fettuccine with Mussels
from Cooking Light, August 2010

8 oz uncooked fettuccine
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
6 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup dry white wine
3 plum tomatoes, chopped
1/3 cup clam juice
1 1/2 pounds mussels, scrubbed and debearded
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat leaf parsley

Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente.  Drain, reserving 1/3 cup of the pasta’s cooking water.

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the onion and cook until it begins to soften, about 4 minutes.  Add the garlic and, stirring constantly, cook for about 1 minute, or until fragrant.  Pour the wine into the pan and cook for about 3 minutes, or until most of the liquid evaporates.  Toss the tomatoes into the pan and cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Next, add the reserved pasta water and the clam juice.  Bring to a boil then add the mussels.  Cover your pan and cook for 4 minutes or until the mussels open fully (discard any mussels that do not open).  Finally, add the pasta to the skillet and cook to heat through, about 1 minute.  Toss well to combine the pasta and sauce.  Sprinkle with the fresh parsley before serving.