A friend of mine recently told me that mussels are to be eaten only during the months ending in “er.” According to her undisclosed, expert French source, these cooler months are when this mollusk is in season and sampling them outside this period is simply not worth the palate’s second glance.I had never heard of this, so, upon receiving this news my taste buds froze in a panic, like a deer caught in headlights. I am not one to keep much track of time but suddenly it was of the utmost importance to me. What month was I in? After tripping over several incorrect answers, it came to me: aaah…Septemb-ER! A wave of relief washed over me as I realized I had just made it into acceptable mussel-consuming-time. Suddenly, all the frustration and animosity normally reserved for September, a month burdened by the adjustment to early wake-up times (for school), preparing lunches in a daze (for school), and becoming the homework police and pupil (the difference between an isosceles and a scalene triangle is what again???) (for school) was gone. I could handle all my issues with September if I could have my Moules Mariniere, the traditional French sliver of steamed heaven. Of course, I can never control my culinary cravings and sometimes this one comes in the, dare say, middle of July. Not Julyer. July.Thankfully, mussels nowadays are not just plucked from the chilly French waters of the Bay of Biscay, but are also available commercially from such parts as New Zealand and can be enjoyed year-round. Of course, true die-hard mussel aficionados, like my friend’s Deep Throat, would have my head for saying such things and/or taking it a step further and recommending frozen mussels when the need arises. But this is a risk I am willing to take. Frozen mussels are equally plump and juicy, packed straight from New Zealand to be savored at your heart’s content, regardless of the spelling of the month you are in. Call these rebels with a cause, if you will, I am just grateful to have them come September or July.
This dish is so simple and delicious, you'll find yourself turning to it often for a quick & unforgettable meal. Make sure to serve with a crisp green salad and a hearty loaf of country bread to dip in the sauce!
2 lbs. fresh mussels or 1 box New Zealand Frozen Greenshell Mussels
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup minced fresh parsley or basil
2 tablespoons chopped garlic
1 ripe tomato, chopped
juice of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon butter
If you are using fresh mussels, be sure to wash them well under cold water to get rid of any sand. If you use frozen, you don't have to thaw the mussels. Place mussels in a large pot and add the wine, parsley or basil, garlic and tomato. Cover pot and place over high head, cooking and shaking the pot occasionally until all the mussels are open, about 7 minutes. Remove from heat.Use a slotted spoon to remove the mussels into a serving dish. Whisk lemon and butter into sauce and drizzle over mussels. Serve immediately.