Excerpt from Vital Choice Wild Seafood & Organics
Thanks to El Niño, we’re having a very snowy winter here in the Colorado Rockies. Despite recent mild temperatures, I still have three feet of snow in some parts of the lawn.
And while I love the beauty of winter, my palate is starting to crave some of the brighter flavors of summer produce!
This simple dish, made with Vital Choice Frozen Pacific Blue Mussels, is perfect to satisfy that longing for summer flavors while using just a few items that can still be found in the dead of winter.
Roasting the mussels in the oven at high heat gives them a wonderful, somewhat smoky flavor. I promise you’ll be scooping every big of tomato and fennel from the bottom of your bowl, and I recommend serving this with a piece of crusty sourdough (or two) to dip in the fragrant wine and cream broth.
My 11-year-old daughter and I shared two pounds for lunch today and this was my best mussel preparation so far! Please give this a try and let me know what you think!
A few notes for the cook
If you haven’t cooked with Vital Choice Frozen Pacific Blue Mussels, you won’t believe how easy it is to create a restaurant-quality meal in a matter of moments!
The beauty of Vital Choice mussels is that, after being cleaned and vacuum-packed, the mussels are immersed in 175°F water for 13 minutes. This process pasteurizes and partially cooks the mussels, making it very easy to pull the meat from the shell.
The mussels are also rendered sand-free by this immersion. In addition, the mussels can go directly from the freezer to the oven with no thawing, cooking in just 10 minutes.
If you don’t thaw your mussels in the refrigerator, run them quickly under cold water to remove the chunks of ice so you can pull off the beards before cooking.
And here’s one CRUCIAL tip: Because they’ve been pre-cooked and pasteurized, even unopened mussels are perfectly safe to eat!
Roasted Mussels with Fennel
Makes 2 servings, easily halved for 1
1 medium fennel bulb, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon cooking oil or butter
½ cup shallot, minced
1 cup dry white wine
½ cup heavy cream
juice of ½ lemon
3 sprigs fresh thyme (or ½ teaspoon dry thyme)
2 pounds Vital Choice Frozen Pacific Blue Mussels
2 plum tomatoes, seeded and diced
salt and pepper to taste
crusty bread for dipping
Preheat oven to 450ºF.
Remove the stalks from the fennel bulb and reserve the tender fronds for garnish. Cut off the root end of the fennel bulb, remove the hard core from the center, then thinly slice the bulb with a kitchen knife or mandolin slicer.
Heat the oil or butter in a large sauté pan or cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add the shallot and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the sliced fennel and cook an additional 4 minutes, until fennel softens.
Add thyme, wine, cream and lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. Simmer 3-4 minutes then remove from heat.
Arrange mussels over the fennel sauce and top with diced tomatoes.
Roast in the oven until the frozen mussels are plump and open, 8-10 minutes. If you thawed your mussels in advance, roast 5-6 minutes. Shake the pan once or twice during roasting.
Transfer the mussels to shallow bowls, top with tomatoes and fennel sauce, then garnish with reserved fennel fronds.
Serve right away with crusty baguette or sourdough bread to dip in the fragrant and flavorful wine and cream broth. Enjoy!
Adapted from content initially published by Vital Choice Wild Seafood & Organics.