Monday, April 18, 2016

Mussels Marinara

 Have you ever cooked mussels? I know they might seem a little daunting, but seriously, let me just say that they are REALLY easy to do! They're inexpensive, readily available, and you'll impress the hell out of everyone. They're amazingly quick too!
 To be quite honest, I never had an occasion to make them, but then when we decided to do a seafood theme for my friend Jim's birthday, I figured why not?! And OMG let me just tell you how delicious they are!! Actually, since I'm being honest here, for me it's all about the sauce. I could literally bypass all the actual mussels and dive into a vat of that sauce with a loaf of crusty Italian bread. It's SO amazingly flavorful.
 So if you've never given mussels a try, I urge you to take a leap and give it a shot. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised! They're elegant enough to serve for any holiday (my family has them every year on Christmas) and they're just as perfect for a casual Sunday dinner with friends. This recipe is from Robert Irvine (you know, the Restaurant Impossible guy) and it's absolutely delish.
Give it a try! And don't forget the crusty Italian bread for dipping!!

3 tablespoons light oil or olive oil
1 small white onion, finely chopped
4 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 cup white wine
2 or 3 cans chopped plum tomatoes (32 to 48 ounces total)
1 tablespoon fresh chopped oregano leaves
1 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley leaves
Salt and pepper
4 pounds fresh mussels, de-bearded, scrubbed and rinsed
Pasta, as an accompaniment or crusty bread for dipping
1 tablespoon fresh chopped basil leaves

Heat the oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and saute until cooked. Add the wine and reduce by half, then add the plum tomatoes, oregano and parsley. Add the mussels to the pan and allow to cook for about 10 minutes until all the mussels are open. Transfer mussels to a platter. (Discard any mussels that do not open.)

You can mound some pasta in the center of the plate surrounded by the mussels or have some crusty bread handy for dipping into the sauce.

Adjust the seasoning for the sauce with salt and pepper, as necessary. Coat the mussels with the sauce and sprinkle with fresh chopped basil just before serving.

I added a pinch or two or crushed red pepper flakes, just because I wanted just a little spicy poke.  
If I were going to serve them with pasta, I think I'd probably serve them with regular spaghetti or maybe angel hair pasta.
If you don't have fresh herbs, you can use dried. Just use half as much of each kind.. Fresh herbs bring so much more to the party, though, if you can manage getting some. Just sayin!

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