A plant-based diet is just that–a diet based on plants. Which, for my favorite man and me means that most of what we eat is derived from plants. Don’t ask me for a number … but, I suppose it would be a fair assessment to say 85 to 90 percent of the foods we eat come from plants. I mean hey, every now and then I just have to dip a piece of broccoli in REAL blue cheese dressing, and he has a thing for fried chicken (more on that later) but, for the most part, as I have said many times over … our diet is mostly plant-based … so every now and then, you might see a recipe pop up that isn’t 100 percent plant derived. Hence … mussels …
MARINE MUSSELS live, yea, you guessed it, in or near the ocean. They survive on microscopic sea creatures–which, some argue makes them a carnivore, I’m not so sure about that myself–regardless, they are unquestionably, one of my favorite things to eat, but it’s only been fairly recently that I’ve started cooking them at home. I used to be timid, but now I know they’re beyond easy to cook. Best steamed or boiled, they take less than 10 minutes and are easily tossed into a large pot full of herbs, garlic and a rich tomato-based sauce or broth. When buying from the grocery, make sure they were stored on ice and only buy ones with tightly closed shells. A good fishmonger will sort them for you. Before cooking, be sure to lightly scrub the shell before immersing them into your final dish.
Mussels are farmed, and harvested wild, on the upper portion of the East Coast up into Canada as well as the West Coast but the large majority, like many shellfish, come from New England. Nutritionally speaking, mussels have a tad bit more fat than other shellfish, but it’s still slight and the amount of protein far outweighs the fat content, literally.
PREP TIME: 10 minutes | COOK: Stove top 15 minutes
- Bag of fresh mussels
- Olive oil
- 1/2 onion, chopped
- 2 celery stalks, chopped
- Garlic (remember, I don’t like to give exact measurements … everyone’s tastes are different, I use waayyyyy more garlic than most so do what’s right to you. Start with 3-4 cloves and go from there.)
- Crushed or petite diced, tomatoes in juice, 16-ounce can
- Vegetable stock, 1-2 cups
- White wine, 1-2 cups (nothing sweet)
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/4 cup fresh parsley, minced
- Red pepper flakes (these go a long way)
Sauté onion, celery and garlic in olive oil for about 7-10 minutes over medium heat. Add tomatoes, fish stock, white wine and bay leaf. Note, you can always add more stock later depending on how much broth you want. Bring to simmer. Add mussels and simmer for 5-6 minutes. Add parsley and red pepper flakes, cook for an additional 6-7 minutes. Cover pot and remove from heat.
Ladle into bowls, serve hot with crusty French bread or a hearty Italian loaf on the side to soak up all that marvelous broth.