Seafood can be daunting to cook at home. It’s mysterious. It’s uh… fragrant. It’s sometimes a little more pricey. But the funny part about that is, lots of seafood does best with really simple preparations.
Take mussels for instance – for Dave and I they are one of our favorite indulgences. But they are an insanely healthy dinner – usually they are accompanied by vegetables and broth. And you prepare them by steaming them, which has to be the easiest cooking method there is outside of a microwave (don’t microwave mussels. I mean outside of USING a microwave).
These beautiful things were another Lenten dinner for us. Frequently this type of recipe is cooked very similarly, but with a spicy pork sausage. We skipped that since it is Friday. The pork is definitely delicious and makes a great broth, but this veggie/seafood only broth is just as good.
Now that I think about it, I think we had some mussels last Friday as well, while we were out for an early Valentine’s date. I guess that means we both like them a lot.
Here’s what you need:
1.5 lbs. mussels
1/3 cup flour
2 Tbsp. oil
1 small fennel bulb, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic
1 can crushed tomatoes, drained (the regular size – 16 oz I think?)
1 cup dry white wine
3 Tbsp. roughly chopped parsley
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
Additional salt, freshly ground black pepper and more parsley for topping
Bread for dipping
To begin, place mussels in 3-4 quarts of cold water with the flour. Allow to soak for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, discard their “beards” (pull off with your hands) and discard any mussels that haven’t closed up tight.
Heat the oil in a Dutch Oven or large saucepan. Cook the fennel and garlic for about five minutes, then add the tomatoes, wine, parsley, salt and lemon juice. Bring to a boil, then add the mussels to the pot and stir. Turn the heat to medium (or, a light simmer) and cover, cooking for about 10 minutes. Discard any mussels that haven’t opened back up.
Serve in bowls, making sure to get plenty of broth and veggies in each along with the mussels. Sprinkle with red pepper flakes and any additional toppings desired.