Why do I constantly need to “rediscover” mussels as the perfect weeknight meal? How silly to pay $15 at a restaurant for something that’s dirt cheap, ridiculously fast, and even slightly special feeling. At least it’s hot, unlike my other “go-to” fast meal of tuna sandwiches. (Mmmm…tuna sammies…we kind of love tuna sammies night.)
Uninspired and running late, tiny Washington mussels for $2.99 a pound caught my eye at New Seasons yesterday. I dipped back to produce for a tomato and parsley, ran through the monsoon that had hit in the ten minutes between cavorting on the sunny banks of the Willamette with the le-Beastowicz and snaking through checkout, and 45 minutes later had a steaming bowl of mussels ready to go.
A two-day-old sourdough boule handily gave its life for garlic toast (slice thickly, toast, rub with raw garlic, spread on butter), so pasta wasn’t even necessary. And remembering our moules in Bandol, I rooted through the liquor cabinet for something licoricey. No Pernod, but plenty of ouzo, and in went a capful. (Really cool what it does to the flavor, and it’s subtle. You only notice it if your’e looking.) That’s the beauty of mussels. As long as you have some flavorings, liquid and acid, you can pretty much do what you want.
My base is sauteed onions, garlic, enough dry white wine to make a broth, and tomatoes, parsley and dash of salt at the end. But you can replace wine with clam juice and lemon, use stock, lemon and wine for more soup, add cream, replace onions with shallots or leeks…as long as your mussels are good (and clean) it’s hard to go wrong. Though a handful of shoestring fries with aioli would have been welcome, we made do with a big green salad and the remaining wine.
KML’s standard sign of approval is, “I’d pay $xx for this meal at a restaurant.” In this case it was $22. Not bad for ten bucks in groceries and 25 minutes…most of which was spent cleaning the mussels and the world’s dirtiest lettuce. (Our yard inherited a ladybug in the deal…now that’s a full-service organic grocery store!)