STUFFED MUSSELS WITH TOMATOES AND ALMONDS
by Lawrence Davis-Hollander
Mussel shells make perfect minidishes to hold a mussel dressed with a tasty stuffing. Mussels like this could appear in cafes anywhere along the Mediterranean and in Turkey. Red tomatoes combine well with mussels, and almost any type will do. Stupice, Paragon, Livingston's Favorite, and Livingston's Beauty are all types I have enjoyed with mussels.
• 30 large mussels
• freshly ground black pepper
• 1 cup chopped fresh or canned tomatoes
• 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
• 3/4 teaspoon herbes de Provence or dried oregano
• 1 garlic clove, peeled and finely chopped
• 1/2 cup flaked almonds
• 1/3 cup breadcrumbs made from day-old bread
• 1-2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a shallow baking dish just big enough to hold the mussels in a single layer.
2. Wash the mussels in cold water, cutting off any stringy beards dangling from the shells. Mussels gape from time to time, but if they fail to close after being handled or tapped on a counter, discard them. Also discard those with broken shells. Put the cleaned mussels into a saucepan with water. Cover and bring to a gentle boil. Simmer for 3 to 5 minutes, or until the mussels have opened.
3. Drain and let the mussels cool until they are comfortable to handle. Break off and discard one shell from each. Loosen each mussel from the membrane that holds it in place, but leave it in its half shell. Arrange the shells open side up in a single layer in the baking dish. Grind the pepper over them.
4. Mix the tomatoes, parsley, herbes de Provence, and garlic in a small bowl. Season to taste with salt. Spoon a little of this mixture over each mussel.
5. In another small bowl, mix the almonds and breadcrumbs. Cover the mussels with this mixture. Drizzle with oil.
6. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until the almonds are toasted and golden. Serve hot.