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MICROWAVE

Make a Mussel

August 19, 1993|MARCIA CONE and THELMA SNYDER

Mussels are often ignored--undeservedly so. They're delicious and their black shiny shells add a decorative touch to any dinner or buffet table. And because they are economical compared to clams--sometimes one-third as much--we have been able to make some wonderful meals to serve four people for less than $5. We also serve them chilled to guests as a first course with many flavorful sauces.

STEAMED MUSSELS IN BROTH

3/4 cup dry white wine or water

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1 small onion, chopped

1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon, basil or thyme or 1 teaspoon dried

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 bay leaf, crushed

1 cup sliced mushrooms, optional

1 cup chopped fresh tomatoes, optional

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, optional

3 pounds mussels, scrubbed

1/4 cup chopped parsley

Salsa Verde Cruda

Fresh Mint Sauce

Combine wine, garlic, onion, tarragon, black pepper, bay leaf, mushrooms, tomatoes and red pepper flakes in 3-quart microwave-safe casserole. Cover tightly with lid or plastic wrap, turned back slightly on 1 side, and microwave on HIGH (100% power) 5 minutes.

Add mussels. Cover again and microwave on HIGH until mussels have opened, 6 to 10 minutes, stirring after 5 minutes. Let stand covered 2 minutes before serving. Serve in soup bowls with broth. Sprinkle with parsley. Makes 4 servings.

Note : Mussels should be scrubbed or "de-bearded" right before cooking to retain freshness.

Variation:

Chilled Mussels: After steaming mussels, chill in cooking liquid at least 1 hour or up to 24 hours. Serve on half shell with sauce of choice.

Salsa Verde Cruda

1/4 pound tomatillos or green tomatoes, quartered

1 clove garlic

1/2 green pepper, quartered

1/2 cup chopped cilantro

1/2 serrano or jalapeno chile

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

Place tomatillos, garlic, green pepper, cilantro, serrano chile and lime juice in bowl of food processor. Process until finely chopped, or chop by hand. Spoon some sauce on top of Chilled Mussels. Makes 1 cup.

Fresh Mint Sauce

1 cup nonfat yogurt

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

1 clove garlic, finely minced

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 cup chopped mint

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Dash hot pepper sauce

Combine yogurt, lime juice, garlic, cumin, mint, black pepper and hot pepper sauce in small bowl. Mix well. Chill. Serve on Chilled Mussels. Makes about 1 cup.

RISOTTO WITH MUSSELS

1 teaspoon olive oil

1 clove garlic, minced

1 small onion, chopped

3 pounds steamed mussels and 1 3/4 cups liquid from steaming

1 cup Italian arborio rice or short grain rice, or converted long-grain rice

1/4 cup chopped parsley

Combine oil, garlic and onion in 3-quart microwave-safe casserole. Cover tightly with lid or plastic wrap, turned back slightly on 1 side, and microwave on HIGH (100% power) 2 minutes.

Meanwhile, drain broth from steamed mussels and strain into 4-cup glass measure. (Add water to equal 1 3/4 cups if necessary.) Microwave on HIGH 1 to 3 minutes to heat. Do not boil.

Remove mussels from shells and set aside.

Stir rice into onion-garlic mixture to coat. Add hot mussel broth. Cover again and microwave on HIGH until boiling, 6 to 8 minutes. Reduce to MEDIUM (50% power) and microwave until rice swells and most of liquid is absorbed, 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in mussels and cover again. Let stand 5 minutes. Sprinkle with parsley and serve. Makes 4 servings.

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