Mussels in Tomato Broth

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mussels-in-tomato-broth

Mussels in Tomato Broth 

There is no trick to this recipe. You just need to find the freshest mussels in your grocery store and pre-chop all of the ingredients before you start cooking. It is best to cook mussels on the day of your purchase. Before cooking, open the bag and let them breath in the fridge. Make sure to discard any mussels that are chipped, broken or open. When you are ready to cook, soak the mussels in cold water for 20 minutes in order to helpget rid of any sand and salt still left in the shells. Scrub the mussels well with a brush under cold running water. Remove the so-called “beard” with your fingers by pulling it toward the hinge end of the shell. Place each cleaned mussel in a new bowl of fresh cold water.

Steaming them takes about five minutes and then your dinner is served! For my recipe, everything from the tips on how to clean the mussels and prepare them, to the way I garnish, makes the difference between a good dish and a great one.

Otherwise, the process is pretty simple and self-explanatory. I like to start sautéing vegetables in rendered fat from pancetta that adds a layer of smokiness and crunch. Bacon, speck or really anything of that kind works. If you find an old dry stick of salami that got lost in your fridge months ago, here is your chance to finally get rid of it and enhance the flavor of the dish. This preparation needs that contrasting texture and additional depth of favor in the broth. You will see that when you take a spoonful and taste it! Finely chop your onion, celery, garlic and tomatoes, and cook this medley in the pancetta fat with a hefty addition of butter until soft and fragrant. Butter is totally optional but it adds that beautiful gloss to the finished dish. Deglaze the pan with white wine and let it simmer for few minutes to burn off the taste of alcohol. Pour in the stock and bring this combination to a simmer. Add large basil leaves for herbatious sweetness and fresh hot red pepper for a kick of spiciness. When serving, it’s all about the plating. As I like to say, just as in fashion, layering flavors and extra garnishes adds beauty to the plate, and a beautiful presentation makes the dish tastier! Ladle the broth into plates with mussels, sprinkle it with coarse mildly spicy red pepper, such as Aleppo or Marash, and garnish the dish with baby basil leaves and extra slices of hot red pepper. Scatter croutons and serve hot right away. A one-pot wonder of steamed mussels is a simple delicious meal any day of the week.

mussels-in-tomato-broth-ingredients

Ingredients: mussels, pancetta, onion, celery, tomatoes, garlic, red hot pepper, basil, white wine, vegetable broth, lemon, butter, salt and mildly spicy red pepper.

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Dice half an onion finely.

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Dice center ribs of celery stalk finely, including those light green leaves. I tend to like those more than thicker ribs. They are sweeter and less pungent in taste.

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I am usually able to find organic small wine tomatoes during the cold months at Fairway. Cut them in half and cut out the white divot, it isn't edible.

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Then slice tomatoes into wedges and chop them finely.

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The amount of red hot pepper is totally up to your taste. You can always add extra fresh slices to the plate at the end. I like to remove the seeds and white flesh inside. Seeds will add more spiciness to the broth so keep them if you like it hot!

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Slice hot pepper thinly lengthwise then dice finely.

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Cut garlic in half and remove a green stem, discard. Thinly slice garlic.

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Chop and prepare your ingredients before you start cooking.

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Heat a large wide-sided sauté pan (preferable non-stick) over medium heat, pour a dash of oil and add pancetta.

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Cook for about 5 minutes until it gets crispy. Transfer with a slotted spoon to a small bowl.

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Sauté onion in pancetta’s rendered fat for 3-5 minutes.

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Until softened but not browned. Add a dash of oil if pan gets too dry.

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Then add celery and sauté for few minutes longer.

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Add tomatoes with their juices, season with salt and sauté for 5 minutes, stirring often.

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Add diced hot red pepper and garlic, sauté another minute. Add butter, let it melt and stir it with the vegetables.

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Pour in wine and let it simmer for few minutes until alcohol evaporates.

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Then add broth and basil leaves, bring to a boil.

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Add mussels to the broth; cover the pan and steam for 5-8 minutes, depending on mussels’ size.

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Discard those that didn’t open. Squeeze lemon over mussels and broth at the end.

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To serve, ladle the broth with mussels into plates, sprinkle with crispy pancetta and red pepper. Garnish with tiny basil leaves and extra slices of hot red pepper. Add crotons and serve hot!

mussels-in-tomato-broth

 

Bon Appétit!
Svitlana

Mussels in Tomato Broth

recipe details

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 3 lb. mussels, cleaned, debearded
  • 4 oz. pancetta, finely diced
  • ½ medium onion, finely diced
  • 3 center celery ribs with pale green leaves or 1 thick celery rib, finely sliced
  • 1 medium tomato, finely diced (1/4 cup)
  • 3 small garlic cloves, thinly
  • 1 teaspoon red hot pepper, finely diced
  • 5 large basil leaves
  • ¼ cup white wine
  • 2 cups low-sodium vegetable stock
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 lemon, squeezed
  • Olive oil
  • Aleppo or Marash red pepper spice
  • Salt
To garnish
  • Tiny basil leaves
  • Hot red pepper, thinly sliced into circles
  • ½ cup croutons, cut bread into 1-inch cubes and brown it in the oven or in a hot pan

Directions

  1. Heat a large wide-sided sauté pan (preferable non-stick) over medium heat, pour a dash of oil and add pancetta, cook for about 5 minutes until it gets crispy. Transfer with a slotted spoon to a small bowl. Sauté onion in pancetta’s rendered fat for 3-5 minutes, until softened but not browned. Add a dash of oil if pan gets too dry. Then add celery and sauté for few minutes longer. Add tomatoes with their juices, season with salt and sauté for 5 minutes, stirring often. Add diced hot red pepper and garlic, sauté another minute. Add butter, let it melt and stir it with the vegetables. Pour in wine and let it simmer for few minutes until alcohol evaporates. Then add broth and basil leaves, bring to a boil.
  2. Add mussels to the broth; cover the pan and steam for 5-8 minutes, depending on mussels’ size. Discard those that didn’t open. Squeeze lemon over mussels and broth at the end.
  3. To serve, ladle the broth with mussels into plates, sprinkle with crispy pancetta and red pepper. Garnish with tiny basil leaves and extra slices of hot red pepper. Add crotons and serve hot!
   

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