29. March 2016 · Comments Off on Linguine alle Cozze con Pomodoro · Categories: Cooking, Food · Tags: , , ,

A classic hearty pasta dish. Delicious when mussels are in season.

Prep time: about 20 minutes if starting with fresh tomatoes, 10 minutes if using canned
Cook time: about 15 minutes.

What you need:
1 1/2 lb. Roma tomatoes, blanched, peeled, seeded, and chopped (or two cans of whole tomatoes, drained and diced)
3 cloves garlic, sliced thin
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1/3 cup fresh basil, cut in ribbons
1/2 cup dry white wine, unoaked
1/4 cup olive oil
2 lbs mussels in shell, scrubbed and de-bearded
1/2 lb. dried linguine
Juice from 1/2 lemon
Kosher salt or fine sea salt

What you do:

Sort and clean mussels, discarding any with cracked or broken shells, or dead specimens (shell will gape open and not stay closed when squeezed shut).

Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil. Add linguine and cook until al-dente, about 11 minutes.

While pasta cooks, add olive oil to a large covered skillet and place over medium-high heat. Add garlic and oregano and stir, until garlic is aromatic, but not colored. Add mussels and turn heat to high. Toss with oil and let cook 1-2 minutes, then add wine, tomatoes, and all the basil but about a tablespoon, cover, and cook for 3-4 minutes until mussels are just opened.

Remove mussels from pan to a bowl, discarding any that did not open. Continue to cook tomatoes over high heat for another 4-5 minutes, or until sauce is reduced by about half. Add lemon juice. Season with salt to taste.

Reserve a dozen mussels to the side, and remove all the rest from their shells. Drain pasta and return to pot, add sauce from pan and the shelled mussel meats and toss for 1-2 minutes over medium heat. Remove from heat and serve pasta surrounded by a half-dozen mussels in the shell and topped with a large pinch of the remaining basil.

Makes 2 hearty servings.

30. December 2013 · Comments Off on A Brief Essay on the Bottom of the Food Chain · Categories: Cooking, Food · Tags: , , ,

As a culture, we have learned to eat high on the the biological hog, as it were. The majority of our protein sources, if we are not of the vegan/vegetarian persuasion, come from creatures that are relatively high up the ladder as far as who eats whom. Many of our fish, even, are fish-eaters themselves requiring several pounds of other seafood to put on a pound of their own weight. Aquaculture, if done badly, can be just as polluting as factory farming. Wild-catch fish are rapidly being depleted in fisheries worldwide as demand rises.

Which leads me to ponder why we’ve largely ignored the virtues of the lower orders of the marine ecosystem. Sure, small oily fishes (which are admittedly pretty tasty in their own right) have garnered attention in trendy eateries and with those who espouse the Mediterranean diet. But I’ve always been interested in going even lower, to the bivalves and molluscs. Sure, oysters are the darlings of the filter-feeder set, eaten raw and roasted with refined sauces and fine wines at the fanciest of tables. Clams have their fans, particularly in the northeastern parts of the US.

But for pure availability and bang-for-buck, we have to talk about mussels. More »