Mussels au gratin

july 23rd 2014

We are on vacation, at the beach and with our beloved granny. Because of this two conditions I find it impossible not to take a brake from my vegan diet. Here it is possible to buy fish in the morning directly from the fishermen on the beach. Of course it tastes completely different from what you can buy in the city, much better of course! Next to it, granny is an expert in cooking fish… so I had to take advantage.
After all, a bit of fish once in a while is allowed also by the DIANA diet, advised to women that had breast cancer by the Italian Cancer Institute in Milan, which is studying already since 25 years the effect of a lifestyle change on the prognosis. I have to admit that the past few days I had fish a bit more often than “once in a while”, but what can I do… it’s vacation!

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This morning we all woke up early, so we went all together on patrol. Actually… there was not much to scour because last night there was a thunderstorm and the boats did not even go out, so we went buying mussels and clams in a warehouse always close by our residence. Fortunately we had bought them because pretty soon it started to rain again. We would have liked to take a walk but we gave up.

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And what do you do if you are at the seaside when it rains? You cook and eat of course! 🙂 Mussels and clams are delicious as they are, simply warmed up in a pan with garlic and parsley. But… having time, grandma had the idea to make mussels au gratin… uhm, very good! This is seemingly a simple recipe. Seemingly because in reality opening the mussels… is not that obvious! My mom showed me how to do it and I decided to share it.

Ingredients:
1 kg mussels/ mosselen
some old bread (better whole grain)/ 1 ouwe brodje (beter volkoren)
1 hand full of parsley/ hand vol platte peterselie
2 garlic cloves/ teentjes knoflook
extra virgin (cold pressed) olive oil as needed / extra vierge (koudgeperste) olijfolie als nodig

Procedure:
.grate the old bread
.mince garlic and parsley
.mix the bread, the garlic, the parsley and add some olive oil (we used approximately 3 table spoon)
.open the musseld, in this way:

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The first thing you need to identify is the “verse”. If you pay attention, you notice that the mussel has 2 long sides, one is straight, the other one is convex (1). It’s important to understand it because you need to press the shell from the straight side towards the convex one (2) in order to be able to insert the knife (3) between the two shells. The top one should slip over the bottom one and the knife should be pointed. If it’s round as the one we had, it’s also fine.

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Once inserted, you should move the knife along the perimeter towards the other side and the tip should always stay upwards (4). This of course to maintain the mussel intact.  At this point take the knife back to its initial point (5) and get rid of the extra shel (6).

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.collect the shells on a plate which, in addition to the shells, will retain also the water of the mussels (never throw things away!)
.arrange the shells on the baking plate, previously covered with a baking foil
.add some “mussel water” to the bread crumbs (in this way you can avoid using salt)
.cover the mussels with the seasoned bread crumbs
.cook them in the oven (grill) at the maximum temperature for 5 minutes

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time 30 minutes preparation time, 5 minutes cooking time

difficulty very low

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