This mussel dish, Saute' di Cozze, is just perfect: it's a taste of the sea that's light and flavorful and only takes a few minutes to prepare. It's great as an appetizer on its own, or as a main course (maybe with some homemade fries?), and can even be tossed with some pasta for a filling primo piatto. Add some chopped tomatoes for color and sweetness, a pinch of saffron for a southern French twist. Substitute the parsley with cilantro for the Portuguese version of this dish, or grind a lot of black pepper into the mussel pot as they're cooking for an Italian variation called pepato di cozze. There's lots to play with here. Enjoy it and make it your own -- but make it, pronto. The perfect summer seafood saute' is in your future!
Saute’ di Cozze
Serves 4 people
4-5 TBS. extra-virgin olive oil
1-2 cloves of garlic, peeled and left whole
5 lbs. fresh mussels
½ cup white wine
Bunch of parsley (Italian flat-leaf), chopped finely
Pinch of red pepper flakes
Salt + pepper to taste
- In a large bowl/pot of water, add the mussels and a healthy bit of salt or cornmeal. Let sit for 10 minutes. Then, using your hands, pick up a handful of mussels in each hand, lift them out of the water a bit, and scrub together using the mussels themselves to clean the outer shells. Repeat several times, changing the water to clean.
- Drain mussels, and using your fingers, quickly peel away the “beard” (the hairy-looking thing hanging from the lip of the mussel shell). It will require a quick yank, so hold the mussel closed with one hand, and quickly rip off the beard with the other. Do this on all the mussels that have beards.
- Heat a large skillet over medium heat, and add the olive oil and garlic to cook for one minute.
- Add the mussels and stir a bit. Add the white wine, the parsley, and cover, cooking over medium-low heat for 3 minutes. Add the chili flakes and salt and pepper to taste, and continue cooking until the shells of the mussels have fully opened. Mix to make sure all are opened, adding olive oil and/or salt & pepper to taste, and turn to coat thoroughly. Serve at once with nice, crusty bread.