An Exotic Meal, In Season, and On the Cheap

The humble moule.  Such a tasty yet inexpensive little gem.  Pair them with the late-summer tomatoes and peppers still prevalent at local farmers’ markets, a dash of spice, and you can transport your plate to the Incense Route.

A two pound bag will set you back about six bucks at Whole Foods.  Buy a loaf of crusty bread and an inexpensive (not cheap) bottle of white wine and you have yourself an exotic, but simple dinner.   Then, invite a friend over and they’ll be amazed at your cooking prowess.  Secretly, you’d know that it only took you 20 minutes to do.  But you can still smile, nod your head, and say, “Thanks, I love to cook.”

PK Tip:  when you get your mussels home, take them out and rinse them in a colander, remove any beards and check to make sure they are all closed tightly or at least close when you tap them.  Then put that colander over a bowl and stick them back in the fridge.  They’ll be fine until dinner.  As it turns out, mussels need air to breathe.  For God’s sake don’t leave them in the plastic bag they may have given them to you in.

Mussels with Curried Peppers 

1 T olive oil

1 shallot, finely minced

1 clove of garlic, finely minced

1 Bay leaf

1 splash of white wine or vermouth

1 2 lb. bag of mussels (from a reputable purveyor of fish, please)

2 medium green bell peppers, de-seeded and roughly chopped

1 medium tomato, roughly chopped

1 t curry powder

1 handful of fresh coriander, chopped (or parsley for all you cilantro haters)

Salt

In a large pan, over medium-low heat, add olive oil and sweat the shallot, garlic and bay for 5 minutes.  Then add a splash of wine or vermouth, and reduce until almost evaporated. 

While the shallot, garlic and bay are cooking, puree the peppers, tomato and curry powder in a blender or food processor.  Tip the puree into your pan, increase the heat, bringing it to a boil.

Add the mussels to the pan, turn to high, and cover.  Cook for 3-4 minutes, shaking the pan occasionally.  The mussels are done when they yawn open.  Discard any that don’t. 

Taste the broth.  The liquor from the mussels will add some salt to the broth.  Add a pinch or two more if you think it needs it.

It is mandatory to serve this in warmed, shallow bowls with large amounts of crusty French Bread and salty butter.  A bottle of Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand wouldn’t hurt either.

Playlist included Davey, by The Señors of Marseille.  I kind of think they might be a new Vampire Weekend.

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