I had been looking at the fresh mussels in the market the last several weeks I have gone there but I didn’t buy any because it would have been too many for just Michelle and myself. I decided to break down and bought some yesterday to have for dinner and bot am I glad I did. There were so good, and this recipe is just a perfect way to make them. Make sure you have some good, crunchy bread around to help soak up some of the delicious broth that you get from the meal.
Spaghetti and Mussels with Tomato and Basil
Salt, to taste
6 ounces spaghetti (I used fettuccine, that’s what we had on hand, but anything you like will do)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large shallot, minced
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 pound mussels
1/3 cup dry white wine
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
3/4 pound cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup slivered fresh basil
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Bring a large pot three-fourths full of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta, stir well and cook until al dente, about 11 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a large, heavy fry pan over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil. Add the shallot and red pepper flakes and saute until the shallot is almost tender, about 2 minutes. Add the mussels, wine and lemon zest. Cover the pan and cook until the mussel shells begin to open, about 4 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook, stirring frequently, until they start to soften, about 2 minutes. Discard any mussels that do not open.
Drain the pasta and transfer it to a warmed large, shallow bowl. Pour the mussels and sauce over the pasta. Add the basil and the extra-virgin olive oil and toss to coat the pasta. Season with salt and black pepper and serve immediately.
Just a couple of quick tips regarding the mussels. If you have never purchased mussels before, you want to look shells that are tightly closed or close when they are tapped. Avoid any cracked or broken shells or any that are just sitting in a puddle of water. Make sure they smell clean. If they don’t, you don’t want them at all. You so need to scrub them before cooking, and you may even need to de-beard them. All that is is a little weedy piece sticking out between the shells. You can give them a quick tug out or use a paring knife and cut it off. Very few of those I bought had a beard. Expect a few not to open when you cook them. It’s perfectly okay, it happens in every batch, but if they don’t open, don’t eat them. You don’t need the stomach problems you’ll have later on if you do eat them. I served the meal with a small, simple salad with some balsamic vinaigrette.
I also had a small batch of ground beef so I decided to make a few meatballs to have around since Sean is coming home and loves them with his pasta. I use a very simple recipe from America’s Test Kitchen and they come out great.
2 slices of white bread (use good white bread for this)
1/3 cup buttermilk
3/4 pound ground beef
1/4 pound ground pork
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
1 large egg yolk
1 garlic clove, minced
Salt and pepper
Remove and discard the crusts from the bread, then tear the bread into small pieces. Mash the bread pieces and buttermilk to a smooth paste in a large bowl, using a fork.
Add the beef, pork, Parmesan, parsley, yolk, garlic, 3/4 teaspoon of salt, and 1/8 teaspoon of pepper to the mashed bread. Stir the mixture gently until combined and uniform. Gently form the mixture into 1-inch round meatballs ( I got about 20 out of the mix)
Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the meatballs on a wire rack in a cookie sheet or roasting pan. Cook for approximately 10 to 12 minutes or until well browned. Remove them from the oven and either place in tomato sauce or brown gravy and serve.
It’s very easy and simple and tastes quite good. The recipe calls for a mix of beef and pork, but I only used beef this time and they came out fine. Baking them on the wire rack helps keep them from sitting in any fat and they brown nicely all over.
That’s it for today. I got a number of things at the market last week, a lot of chicken, so we’ll see what I can come up with for the week. Until then, enjoy this beautiful day and enjoy your meal!