Monday, July 13, 2009

Mussel Celebration








My Canadian sister was here for a few days. We live too far away so we bring everything to each visit. We swam, walked the Cave Without A Name, hiked, drank wine and told stories, not all at once.


Her favorite dinner was the wine and garlic steamed mussels with roasted sweet potatoes and asparagus. Fast, easy, fun, fabulous food. The night we made it, we drank cabernet as we cooked, a seriously good 2003 Terra Valentine Spring Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon from I Block.


You may not be blessed with a sister, but you can recreate the mussels. And it only takes about 20 minutes, start to finish. Here are the approximate proportions for 4 generous servings:


3 lbs live mussels (nice if they come already cleaned, if not, you'll need to scub & debeard)
2 Tblsp olive oil
red pepper flakes to taste
2 medium onions, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
8 oz crimini (baby bella) mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
1 red bell pepper, chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
~ 1 cup dry white wine, more if you need it
kosher salt & fresh-ground pepper


Use a wide, heavy pan--the mussels will steam more evenly if they're distributed over a greater area. Heat the olive oil with red pepper flakes (more if you like heat, less if you don't) over medium high heat. Saute the onion and celery with a hearty pinch of kosher salt until the vegetables soften. Add mushrooms and continue to saute until the the edges of the onions brown. Add bell pepper and garlic, stir for about 30 seconds. Add a little more salt and some pepper. Stir again. Add the wine & stir. It will boil quickly. As soon as it does, add the mussels, quickly spreading them out in an even layer. Cover. Cook for about 3 minutes, then peek to see if the mussels are opened. If not, cover & shake. Check & shake every few minutes until the mussels have opened and released their liquor. Remove from heat.

Great served over brown rice or with crusty bread to soak up the sauce.
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