This is not my recipe … I drew inspiration for it from an Italian TV programme featuring a husband-and-wife pair (Santo and Addolorata) cooking together in their farmhouse ‘Masseria Sciarra’ in Sicily. It is a seafood dish of mussels with the very unusual addition of almonds! Unusual for us of course, whereas it would appear that this is most typical in the Province of Trapani and on the island of Favignana.
The first step involves cleaning the mussels — and you can refer to my post of January 5th for this https://myhomefoodthatsamore.wordpress.com/2011/01/05/mighty-is-the-mussel/.
Here are the spruced up mussels.
Then you will require the following ingredients: garlic, cherry tomatoes, fresh parsley and basil, lemon zest, almonds, half a glass or more of white wine. You will also need slices of crusty bread to toast.
It has been so unseasonably warm in Italy this year that the basil you see in this photo is taken from my balcony … in December!
Here are the almonds … warm them up a little in a pan.
Keep an eye on them … otherwise they will burn instead of toast. I saved mine in the nick of time! Allow to cool.
At the back of this photo is a strange-looking toaster that nevertheless makes great toast. I toasted 6 slices of bread. At the front, we have the almonds that need a bit of bashing about.
Fold the almonds in a clean dish cloth … and use a rolling pin or other heavy object and bash away to your heart’s content. We don’t want to pulverise the almonds, however … just break them up a bit.
Here they are, ready to be sprinkled over the mussels at the very end, just before the dish is served at the table.
Chop the tomatoes in half or quarter them … whatever you prefer, it doesn’t matter too much.
Chop a handful of parsley and set aside.
PART III – COOKING THE MUSSELS
In a large stock pot or saucepan … bash up some garlic, chop some parsley and basil, and add a large slice of lemon zest cut in two … drizzle plenty of olive oil and …. sauté the garlic for a few minutes.
Add the cleaned mussels to the pot and add the wine at the same time.
Put a lid on the pot and let it stew the mussels until they all open …. about 5 minutes. You can take the lid off and check … if one or two mussels are still shut tight, put the lid back on and stew a little longer.
Here they are, these lovelies, all nicely opened. It’s now time to filter their liquid.
Pass the liquid through a sieve. If you have cleaned your mussels properly, there shouldn’t be too much, if any, yukky stuff to remove.
The sieve also catches the garlic and lemon zest and all the rest too …
Now totally edible … but … just to make the eating that little bit easier, it’s a good idea to render the mussels on the half shell … i.e. remove one half of their shell.
These are the half shells that get thrown away. Now put the mussels, together with every drop of their precious liquid, into another large frying pan. Keep them ready and waiting while you get on with the last few steps.
PART IV – THE LAST STAGES: COOKING AND ASSEMBLING
More olive oil, more garlic in another frying pan … sauté until the garlic is almost brown.
Add the chopped tomatoes to the frying pan … and cook for about 5 minutes. Meanwhile:
Warm up the mussels in another pan … do NOT overcook … just warm the pan until the mussels are hot again.
Now add the sautéd tomatoes and the oil they were cooked in to the mussels and, after mixing well, turn off the heat. Sprinkle a modicum of salt and freshly milled pepper. If you like spice, add some chilli.
Add the chopped parsley and the almonds last. Get ready to transfer these lovelies, piping hot, to a serving platter. Place the toasted bread around the platter and … serve!
DINNER IS SERVED!
The almonds tasted lovely and added, in a very discreet way, a little crunch.
The toasted bread did its duty and mopped up the sauce and the juices most diligently …
Truly fabulous. I hope my instructions don’t give the impression of this being a complicated dish to make. It requires some work, yes, but is not at all difficult. And is it worth the effort …? What do you think!!!