Mussels and oh-so-French fast food

Moules a la Mariniere — mussels in white wine — brings memories of seaside dining in France, watching the fishing boats come in, breathing the fresh sea air, and drinking a chilled glass of white wine. What a treat!

Figure about 2 pounds mussels per person. Store them in the refrigerator, and rinse with cold water before using, scraping off the “beard,” the thin hairs with which the mussel attaches itself to rocks. If any are open, tap them gently, and discard any that do not close.

This dish is really a meal in itself with the reduced broth and vegetables as a second course in the same bowl. Fresh French bread is a must for soaking up every last drop.

Fred Tasker’s wine suggestion: I there isn’t a French law requiring the light, dry Loire Valley wine called muscadet to be served with this, there should be.

Helpful Hints:

Prep the vegetables in a food processor fitted with a thin slicing blade.

Fish broth can be substituted for the white wine.

Countdown:

Start vegetables.

While vegetables cook, wash mussels.

Finish dish.

Shopping list:

Here are the ingredients you’ll need for tonight’s Dinner in Minutes.

To buy: 1 medium onion, 1 small bunch carrots, 1 small bunch celery, 1 small bunch parsley, 4 pounds mussels, 1 bottle dry white wine and 1 French baguette.

Staples: Butter and black peppercorns.

Mussels in White Wine (Moules a la Mariniere)

1 Tbsp. butter

2 cups sliced onion

1 cup sliced carrot

1 cup sliced celery

1/2 cup dry white wine

Freshly ground black pepper

4 lbs. mussels

1/4 cup chopped parsley

1/2 whole-wheat French baguette, sliced

Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Saute the onion, carrot, and celery until they start to shrink but not color, about 10 minutes. Add the white wine and some pepper. Add the mussels and cover the saucepan tightly. Raise the heat and boil just until the mussels open, about 3 minutes. Do not over-cook.

With a slotted spoon, transfer mussels to 2 bowls, discarding any unopened ones. Bring pan liquid back to a boil. Cook about 1 minute to reduce, and set aside. Sprinkle mussels with parsley and serve. When finished, serve vegetables and broth (leave about 1/4 inch in pan as It may be gritty) with baguette slices. Makes 2 servings.

Per serving: 569 calories (22 percent from fat), 14.1 g fat (5.2 g saturated, 3.8 g monounsaturated), 96 mg cholesterol, 41.2 g protein, 59 g carbohydrates, 6.6 g fiber, 1,229 mg sodium.

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