I was in the Pacific Northwest this week visiting family and as usual, I was amazed at the abundance of fresh local seafood available in local markets. Beautiful locally raised black mussels for $5.99/lb is not something you’d ever see in L.A.
This is the way it is in Marche, Italy too. Seafood straight off the boat caught in the vast Adriatic Sea by fishermen apt to be part of a multi-generational fishing family.
This simple and fast dish is unusual in its use of saffron. While saffron is grown and harvested in Italy, today, it probably originated in Persia. Perhaps it ended up in Marche from the spice trade of nearby Venice. However it ended up in Marche, Italy — enjoy!!!
- 2 lbs. live black mussels
- Salt and pepper
- Extra virgin olive oil
- 3 cloves of garlic, 2 minced and 1 cut in half for the crostini
- 1 baguette of crusty bread
- 1 bunch parsley
- 4 Roma tomatoes, diced, or any of your summer garden tomatoes
- A big glass of white wine
- 1 small lemon, juiced
- 1 big pinch of saffron
- Prepare a large bowl with cold water, ice and a big handful of salt; mix to dissolve. Clean the mussels by vigorously rinsing and pulling out any beards. Place in the salt-water bath for about 1 hour to let the mussels expel any sand.
- Make the crostini by slicing the bread ½-inch thick. Heat oven to 350-degrees. Place the bread slices on a sheet pan and drizzle with olive oil. Bake for 10-15 minutes, flipping them over once, until the bread is crusty on top. Remove from the oven, rub with the cut garlic clove and sprinkle with a little salt.
- In a large pan with a lid, warm a few tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil over medium heat. Add the minced garlic and chopped parsley and some salt and pepper. Stir until the garlic is lightly browned.
- Add the diced tomatoes and stir. Cook until the tomatoes become soft but not too mushy. Add the white wine and cook for a minute more.
- Add the mussels, saffron and lemon juice. Combine and cover with the lid. Cook until the mussels have opened. Discard any mussels that don’t open.
- Serve in big bowls including lots of broth along with the crostini for dipping in the mussel broth.