Mussels with Tomato Broth and Goat Cheese

I can confidently state that mussels are in my top 3 of favorite seafood dishes. Although you can hardly consider them as a singular dish, especially with all the different broths like tomato, cream and beer that are used. With all these combinations I don’t think I’ll get tired of mussels anytime soon! But the best part of mussels is the ritual of eating them: breaking open the shell and taking a bite, and a sip of the broth. And of course, mopping up the sauce with some crusty bread. The flavor is usually savory from the broth and slightly sweet and oceany from the mussels. Delicious!

When we were along the southern coast of Turkey, we took a 2 day side trip to the island of Rhodes in Greece. For dinner, we went to this restaurant called Agalma in the Rhodes new town. As an appetizer, we had these mussels in a savory tomato broth that was sprinkled with goat cheese. We loved this dish and wanted to recreate it when we got home. If you’re not a fan of goat cheese, feel free to leave it out. But either way, pair this dish with our garlic bread and you’ve got a great meal!

Directions

  1. In a large pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 3 minutes.
  2. Add the tomato juice and celery seeds. Bring to a simmer.
  3. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes.
  4. Discard any mussels that are broken or do not shut when tapped.
  5. Add the mussels to the pot. Cover and bring to a boil.
  6. Cook, shaking the pot occasionally, until mussels are open, about 3 minutes.
  7. Remove the mussels and place into a large bowl, leaving the broth in the pot.
  8. Add the cheese into the broth and whisk over low heat for 1 minute.
  9. Pour broth over mussels and serve.

Cook’s Notes

I didn’t buy tomato juice for this recipe. Our grocery store only sells them in huge bottles, and this recipe only calls for a little bit. Instead, I had regular tomato sauce (not spaghetti or pizza sauce) on hand and mixed 3/4 cup tomato sauce with 3/4 cup water to get the 1 1/2 cups tomato juice.

For some added flavor, we used herb goat cheese.

Mediterranean Mussels

After a week of rain, it seems like summer is finally starting in New York City. Summer for me has always been associated with trips to the beach, especially Outer Banks, and of course fresh seafood. Oceans, sand, that fresh seawater smell, a pot of mussels and a beer…mmm. But actually, it’s more like mussels and beer sans the ocean and breeze.

To get my mussels fix in New York City, I’ve always gone to Cafe de Bruxelles. That is, until it closed last year. I haven’t been able to find a great alternative since then. Petite Abeille is OK, La Sirene is good – but only has a few types of mussels as appetizers. I bought the Bloomspot deal for The Mussel Pot, but haven’t gone yet. Is it any good? Until I try it out, I get my mussels fix at home. It’s pretty hard to mess up mussels.

As I’ve been cooking more fish and shellfish, I’ve come to realize that cooking seafood is not as difficult as it seems. To keep the integrity of the main ingredient, all that is needed is really just a squeeze of a lemon wedge. Usually only a handful of additional ingredients are needed to lift the taste of the dish. While the delicate meat can be intimidating, timing is key in order to keep fish from becoming overcooked. Since the fish is the star, it’s important to get fresh, high quality seafood. This can definitely get expensive, especially in New York City. However, I’ve just discovered that seafood from Fresh Direct is very good in quality, assortment and also reasonably priced as compared to the products from Whole Foods and Wild Edibles. The ingredients from this and the next post are all from the order I received this morning!

And remember, as with all savory cooking the amount of ingredients can be adjusted depending on how garlicky, spicy, sweet etc. you’d like the dish to taste.

Directions

  1. In a soup pot or dutch oven over medium heat, warm the olive oil.
  2. Add the fennel and cook about 5 minutes until soft.
  3. Add the shallot and garlic, cook 2-3 minutes until soft.
  4. Add the jamon serrano and olives, cook 1-2 minutes for the flavors to blend.
  5. Season with salt and pepper.
  6. Pour in the white wine and simmer for 2-3 minutes.
  7. Reduce heat to low and add mussels. Cover and let cook for 5 minutes, until all mussels are open. Discard any mussels that do not open.
  8. Pour mussels and sauce into a large bowl and enjoy with crusty bread!