Steamed mussels provincial, by pierre franey


5 lbs fresh mussels
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp finely chopped garlic
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh fennel
1/2 cup finely chopped onions
1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
1 cup crushed canned tomatoes

1 tsp ground turmeric
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes, or to taste
1/2 cup dry white wine
4 sprigs fresh thyme, or 2 tsp dried
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper to taste
4 tbsp chopped fresh basil or parsley

How to prepare

Scrub the mussels, remove beards and barnacles, and wash in cold water, agitating with the hand; repeat until the water remains clear. Drain well. Heat oil in a large saucepan or kettle. Add garlic, fennel, onions and bell pepper, and cook briefly over medium-high heat until wilted. Do not burn garlic. Stir often. Add tomatoes, saffron, turmeric, pepper flakes, wine, thyme, bay leaf, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and simmer 2 minutes. Add mussels and basil. Cover tightly, and cook over high heat until all mussels are opened, 5 to 6 minutes. Serve immediately with french or crusty italian bread. Yield: makes 4 servings.

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