Mussels make for a cheap and easy fancy dinner

Linda Gassenheimer
Tribune News Service

Mussels steamed in a garlic, tomato and white wine broth are easy and inexpensive to make. Store the mussels in the refrigerator. The commercially raised mussels available today are cleaner than they used to be. Just wash them in cold water before using. Scrape off the beard or thin hairs along the shell. If any mussels are open, tap them gently. Discard any that do not close.

Helpful hints:

You can substitute fish broth for the white wine, if preferred.

Slice the vegetables in a food processor fitted with a thin slicing blade.

Countdown:

– Start vegetables.

– While vegetables cook, wash mussels.

– Finish dish.

Shopping List:

To buy: 3 pounds mussels, 1 bottle dry white wine, 1 package microwaveable brown rice, 1 small bunch celery, 4 plum tomatoes and 1 small bunch parsley.

Staples: olive oil, onion, garlic and black peppercorns.

Mussels in Garlic Tomato Broth

  • 1 package microwave brown rice (to make 11/2 cups cooked rice)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 11/2 cups sliced onion
  • 2 large garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 cup sliced celery
  • 4 plum tomatoes cut into large cubes (about 2 cups)
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 pounds mussels
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley

Microwave brown rice according to package instructions. Divide 11/2 cups between two large soup bowls. Save remaining rice for another meal.

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Saute the onion, garlic, celery and tomatoes until they start to shrivel but not color, about 5 to 6 minutes. Add the white wine and some freshly ground pepper and bring to a boil.

Add the mussels and cover the saucepan tightly. Let boil about 3 minutes, shaking the pan several times. The wine will boil up over the mussels and they will open. As soon as they are open, take the pan off the heat. Do not overcook. The mussels will become rubbery.

To serve, lift the mussels out of the pan with a slotted spoon and place in the two large soup bowls over the rice. Discard any mussels that do not open. Spoon the broth over the mussels. Sprinkle with the parsley and serve. Makes 2 servings.

Per serving: 500 calories, 120 calories from fat, 13 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 6.4 g monounsaturated fat, 50 mg cholesterol, 27 g protein, 60 g carbohydrates, 8 g dietary fiber, 10 g sugars, 560 mg sodium, 13902 mg potassium, 555 mg phosphorus.

Exchanges: 2 starch, 4 vegetable, 31 / 2 lean protein, 1 fat, 1 / 2 alcohol.

— Recipe by Linda Gassenheimer