Now that Bob and I are on summer break, we can do things like get together with friends and spend hours experimenting in the kitchen, then sit on their patio eating a fabulous tapas-style lunch.
Yeah. Good times.
For my primal-eating friends, I decided to prepare steamed mussels. It’s actually a rather easy dish to make, with plenty of variations to change it up once in awhile. There’s a bit of prep work involved beforehand, but the cooking time is just a few minutes.
Preparation: I recommend buying mussels the same day you intend to prepare them. In addition, look for mussels with shells that are tightly closed.
Thoroughly rinse the mussels by using a scrub brush to remove any sand or grit on the shell. If you have wild mussels (versus farmed), you may want to soak the mussels for about 20 minutes to remove sand and grit from the inside). If you notice any mussels whose shells are slightly open, lightly tap the shell to see if the mussel is still alive. If it is, the mussel will slowly close it’s shell. If not, nothing will happen and the shell will remain ajar. Discard any mussels that are not alive.
In addition, you may need to debeard the mussels (remove the tangled threads). This can be done by either tugging the beard until it snaps off, or using scissors to cut it off.
Below is one variation for steaming mussels. Some people will steam mussels au natural, and therefore only use the juices the mussels release. Some will use a very simple broth, and others will concoct a complex sauce that can be soaked up with some french bread once the mussels are served.
- 2 lb mussels (makes appetizers for 4, or entree for 2), prepared as described above
- 1 1/2 c. diced tomatoes
- 1/2 c. broth, wine, or water
- 1 T minced garlic
- pepper to taste (there is usually no need to add salt, as mussels are a bit salty as-is)
- fresh basil, for garnish
Bring everything except the mussels to a boil in a pot on the stove. Once boiling, add the mussels, place the lid on the pot, and steam for about 5 minutes. You may want to gently shake the pot about half-way through, to make sure the mussels are steaming evenly.
After 5 minutes, check the mussels to see if most of them have opened. If not, a bit more time is needed. Once all the mussels have opened, remove from heat. Discard any mussels that did not open.
Transfer the mussels into a serving bowl, and pour the liquid at the bottom of your pan over top. Garnish with basil. Serve immediately.
Our Tapas Lunch
Marla made baked, cabbage-stuffed avocados with a pesto topping. The warmed avocado was perfect with the crunchy cabbage, but it was the pesto topping that stole the show. Delicious.
Marla also made a broiled romaine BLT salad. I’ve never had broiled romaine before, and I wasn’t sure how exactly the dish would turn out. I thought it might get mushy. Instead the broiled flavor added a new and interesting dimension to the salad. I really enjoyed it!
I had a blast with our tapas-style lunch–can’t wait to do it again!