My mother has always told me one should really only eat mussels during months whose names end in “…er,” so here’s to enjoying these delicious (and inexpensive) bivalves as many times as we can!
Steamed Mussels with Fennel, Garlic and Orange
1 medium navel orange
3 tablespoons vegetable oil* (canola, grapeseed)
4 large garlic cloves, pressed through a garlic press or very finely minced
1/3 cup finely minced shallots
1/2 cup finely chopped fennel bulb (reserve a few fronds for garnish)
1/3 cup white wine
1/2 cup vegetable stock
1 pound mussels, scrubbed and beards removed (be sure not to use any that don’t close themselves as they are rinsed under cold water)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh, Italian parsley
Zest the orange – you should end up with about 1 tablespoon. Slice the ends off the orange and carefully carve the remaining peel and pith from the orange. Cut the sections out from between the membranes and chop into small pieces. Set aside.
In a medium, heavy-bottomed pot heat the oil over medium heat and add the garlic, shallots and fennel bulb. Saute until the mixture has softened, 3-5 minutes. Add the wine and the zest and bring to a boil, stirring often to prevent sticking. After a minute, add the stock and return to a boil. Add the mussels and cover with a tight-fitting lid. Steam the mussels for about 3 minutes total, stirring every so often, until they have all opened. (If any do not open, discard.)
Divide the mussels between two serving bowls and turn off the flame. Mix the chopped oranges and parsley into the broth and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Spoon the broth over the mussels, garnish with fennel fronds and serve with a great loaf of bread.
* Butter can certainly be substituted for the vegetable oil here. It will create a richer sauce, but it’s obviously not the heart-healthy option.