I of the things I admire about French cooking is the fact that inexpensive foods are given the same loving treatment as the luxury items, and frequently turn out to taste even better. Take mussels. Probably the most popular mussel dish is "moules marinieres", a classic French recipe using wine, garlic, shallots, parsley and butter. This dish is easy to make, and tastes divine. The only different thing with my variation is that I added fresh tomatoes to the sauce. I love it this way. See for yourself when you try this recipe.
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, chopped
- 3 Tbsp. butter
- 2 1/2 lb. mussels, well scrubbed and debearded
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 3-5 small tomatoes, chopped
- 1 bay leaf
- salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
- 2-3 Tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped
(On the photo: Boston lettuce for my salad that I had with mussels)
Tip: To clean mussels, scrub the shells well under running water. The beard, a fibrous tuft near the hinge, should not be removed until just before cooking. Grasp it close to the shell and pull on it with a firm tug. Today, with so many farm-raised mussels in the market, beards are less fully formed and are easier to remove. Once the mussels have been thoroughly cleaned, remove and discard any shells that are open or broken and that do not close when tapped.
In a large sauté pan over medium-high heat, melt the butter. Then add the onion, garlic and cook until the onions are soft, about 3-4 minutes. Turn up the flame to high and add the mussels. Pour in the white wine, bay leaf, fresh parsley, salt, ground pepper and stir for about 1 minute. Stir in the tomatoes, cover and cook for 5 minutes until all the mussels have opened. Discard any mussels that did not open.
Serve the mussels in large bowl with the broth and baguette slices for dipping.