Breaking news: this is my new favorite dish to make! I know you’re not supposed to play with your food, but mussels play back and I found it positively delightful. All in all this dish took about 15 minutes to make and, while I have no problem paying for quality food, the whole dish cost all of $6. Image what this same dish would cost at a restaurant! I was stunned at what a great deal a pound of gorgeous Canadian mussels is.
They say that mussels are the poor man’s oyster but I say mussels are the lazy man’s oyster. Can you imagine how many oysters I would eat in any given week if they yawned big and wide? I stubbornly struggle to open oysters every week so that someday I can shuck dozens of them for company and not think twice about it. Mussels are far easier to prepare.
I love the way steamed mussels look and wanted to be able to make them for company but as you know, I rarely make anything for company that I haven’t made for myself. I researched a few different recipes and best practices and, true to form, threw it all out the window and came up with my own recipe. I just did a pound of mussels. I’ll keep the proportions for 1 pound so that you can easily multiply depending on how many pounds you buy.
A few things to keep in mind about mussels:
- They should be closed before you cook them.
- If they’re open right before you cook them, gently tap the shell on the counter. The mussel might close in a few minutes. If so, it’s fine to eat. (I only had three open mussels in a pound. One closed immediately when tapped on the counter. One did not close until I after I’d cooked the dish. That would have been fine to eat. The other was dead and did not ever close.)
- Mussels should open when steamed. Discard any mussels that do not open. Don’t let you guests pry open a mussel!
One more note: This recipe depends heavily on really good, fresh tomatoes. If you can’t find nice tomatoes where you are, wait until you can. I had in mind that I wanted to try this when I went to the store but I didn’t make up my mind until I saw the gorgeous mixed cherry tomatoes. You can use all red cherry tomatoes if you’d like, but I used the variety you see here in the foreground.
I really could go on about this dish all day! But I won’t. I give you Steamed Mussels with Fresh Tomatoes and Parmesan.
Steamed Mussels with Tomatoes and Parmesan
1 pound of mussels
1/2 Tbsp olive oil
1-2 garlic cloves, crushed*
2/3 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup dry white wine
Black pepper to taste
1 Tbsp fresh tarragon, chopped
Crusty bread, toasted or grilled
- Prepare mussels: rinse and check for beards. A top-quality grocer such as Central Market will sell them already debearded but there may be some stragglers. Just grab the string and pull gently but firmly. Discard any mussels with cracked shells. All mussels should be closed. Tap open mussels gently on the counter. Any that close within a few minutes are fine to eat.
- Heat olive oil and garlic in heavy pot (a Dutch oven if making a large quantity, something similar but smaller if you’re cooking a pound) until garlic is fragrant, about one minute. Be careful not to burn garlic.
- Add halved cherry tomatoes, dry white wine (I used Pinot Grigio), and a few shakes or grinds of black pepper. Bring to a simmer and cook until reduced, about 6-8 minutes. Tomatoes should cook down to form a sauce.
- Add mussels. Gently stir. Cover and cook for an additional 6-8 minutes. All mussels should open. Discard any that do not.
- Transfer to serving bowl. Garnish with fresh tarragon and parmesan cheese. Serve with crusty bread to soak up the tomato sauce and a glass of your already opened bottle of wine!
*Use one garlic clove if you aren’t a garlic fanatic like me. Garlic lovers, go for two!
P.S. This Belle Ambiance Pinot Grigio from Delicato Family Vineyards was absolutely delicious.