For some reason we often find ourselves shying away from the seafood section at the grocery store. Particularly with shellfish, there's an intimidation factor that just isn't there with chicken or steak.
If this sounds like you, mussels are a good place to start overcoming your fear! Cooking them is a snap--all you need to do is scrub off any residual grit, throw them in a pot with a little liquid, and cover with a lid. Wait five minutes and PRESTO! Mussels for dinner!
As a bonus, mussels are incredibly easy to farm-raise sustainably and with little impact on the ocean environment--one of the few shellfish that can still make this claim. They're also resistant to many of the diseases and bacterias that can make us nervous about other shellfish. And at around $5 for two pounds of mussels, they're budget-friendly, too!
This recipe makes a nice light dish, perfect for a simple spring meal on the back porch. Paired with a refreshing white wine, this could easily be served at an elegant dinner.
Dandelion greens are in season right now and add a bright, bitter flavor to balance the sweet and salty mussels. Choose a summer ale or amber beer for steaming the mussels--IPA's can end up being too bitter when paired with the greens. White wine is also a fine substitute.
Linguine with Mussels and Dandelion Greens Serves 4-5
2 pounds mussels 1 package (1 pound) linguine 1 Tablespoon salt 1 Tablespoon olive oil 1/2 onion, minced 3 cloves garlic, minced 3 Tablespoons sun-dried tomatoes, minced 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes 1 cup of beer 1 bunch dandelion greens, cut cross-wise into thin ribbons 1 Tablespoon lemon juice (about 1/2 lemon) Salt and Pepper to taste
Clean all the mussels and debeard by tugging off the brown 'tag' coming out of the side of the mussel. (The beard is often removed on farmed mussels, but it's good to double-check.) If any have their shells open, tap them gently against the counter top. If they don't close up in a few minutes, discard.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add the salt, and cook the linguine according to the package. Drain and set aside.
Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large wide-bottomed skillet or saucepan with a lid. Add the onions and saute until translucent--about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, sun-dried tomatoes, and red pepper flakes, and saute until fragrant--about 30 seconds.
Add the mussels to the pan, pour in the beer, and cover immediately with the lid. Cook for about five minutes, shaking once or twice, until all the shells have opened. Discard any unopened shells.
Add the dandelion greens to the pan and stir occasionally until the greens are wilted. Add the linguine to the pan and toss with mussels and greens. Season with the lemon juice, salt, and pepper.