Flex! Mussels are the seasonal food of the week and I freakin’ love mussels so that’s what we ate for Friday night dinner. I’ve heard lots of horror stories about people preparing mussels for their friends and, later on, the lot of them battling their digestive demons. So I made sure to take proper care not to poison Jonny or myself. I gave my fresh mussels a good rinse in cold water, removed their beards (ouch!) and tossed any broken or unresponsive creatures out (if the shell is half opened and doesn’t close after a couple minutes in the water or a nice tap on the counter, it’s no good).
How on earth did I create a steaming mussel dish for two for less than a fiver? Well, even though restaurants like to charge a lot for them, you can get them for incredibly reasonable prices. We picked up a bag of fresh bivalves for £2.02 today (on special £2.29/kg, normally £3.49/kg), and with the fresh linguine (£1.19 for 250g), parsley (79p), lemon (15p) and a baguette for some garlic bread (89p) we came in at just pennies over £5.
Ok, so I didn’t quite squeeze this under a fiver. And I admit that I didn’t factor for the price of a few splashes of white wine. Jonny’s mom had a bottle in the fridge so I pinched some. You only need about one glass worth, and I figure spending a couple extra pounds for a bottle that certainly won’t go to waste will be forgiven with how simple and tasty this meal is.
1 bag fresh mussels (up to 1kg)
2 tbsp butter
1 small onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 small bunch parsley, roughly chopped
1 c. white wine
coarse ground black pepper
zest 1 lemon
2-4 tbsp. milk
2-3 tsp. cornflour
250g fresh linguine
1. Wash mussels in sink with cold water, removing beards. Drain and add new water a couple times. Discard any broken or dead shells.
2. In a deep pan with a lid, melt butter and immediately stir in onions, garlic, 1/2 c. wine, pepper and bring to a simmer.
3. Add mussels and splash over the remainder of wine. Cover and cook on low-med heat 5-6 mins. Give the pan a good shake every couple minutes to ensure the mussels cook evenly.
4. Remove mussels with slotted spoon and put them aside, preferably somewhere insulated so they’ll stay warm (like the oven, but don’t turn it on). Discard any that haven’t opened by now.
5. Add the remaining parsley and lemon zest to the reserved cooking liquor. Thicken the sauce with a bit of milk and cornflour. The more of each you add, the more creamy your sauce gets. Simmer and reduce sauce about 10 mins.
6. Meanwhile, cook the pasta. Fresh pasta takes about 3 minutes, so to time it perfectly, start it just before the next step.
7. Remove mussel meat from half of the shells, and stir them into the sauce along with the remaining mussels in their shells.
8. Pour over drained pasta and serve with crusty garlic bread to soak up the sauce!
*You’ll probably notice we had prawns in our finished product. This was a special addition from Jonny that was absolutely delicious, but will add about £1.50 to the dish, so I didn’t include it in the recipe.