Hot Days, Dinner in Minutes

garlicmusselsAbout the only thing I miss about a certain commute to an urban area is that I could run a lot of errands at lunchtime within blocks of the office. The Asian grocery for my oils and sauces, the mini Arthur Avenue Italian market for cheese and bread and fresh produce and baked goodies (among other things), running into colleagues at the toy store during the Christmas season, Macy’s for their one-day sales and mostly, the fish market.

We had a parking tower at the office so on Fridays I’d pack the cooler with ice for a lunchtime run to the market for the mussels. Then I’d stop by the Italian market on the evening commute for fresh tomatoes and bread. These days the fish market isn’t on my commute so I have to carefully plan so that I don’t get stuck in tourist traffic getting home. (Yeah, the owners are snowbirds and there‘s only one road.) And I go to the farmers’ market for my tomatoes.

This is my variation for Garlic Mussels in Tomato-Wine Broth based on a recipe originally from Eating Well magazine.

It’s a quick and easy dinner for hot summer days and nights. It’ll take 10 minutes. No obscure ingredients. No fancy gadgets or tools to prepare. No special cookware needed. Don’t forget to serve it with the Zesty Mayonnaise — and loaf of crusty Italian or French bread. The mayo adds an extra zip. The mayo is best made the day before — or at least several hours so that the flavors blend. The tomatoes can be prepared the day before to save prep time.

Garlic Mussels in Tomato-Wine Broth

1 tsp. olive oil
6 cloves garlic, finely chopped (less if you’re not a garlic lover)
6 ripe plum tomatoes, cored and coarsely chopped (fewer if you get giant tomatoes at the farmers’ market)
½ cup dry white wine
½ cup Madeira
2-3 lbs. mussels, scrubbed and debearded
Optional: cilantro
Red pepper flakes (for extra spice)

In a large frying pan with tight-fitting lid, warm oil over low heat. Add garlic and cook, stirring until golden, about 3 minutes. Add tomatoes, increase heat to high and stir 1 minute more. Pour in wine and bring to a boil.

Add mussels, cover and steam 3-4 minutes, occasionally shaking pan for all the mussels to open. Discard any that don’t open.

Transfer the mussels to serving bowls, pour broth over them. Top the mussels individually with the Zesty Mayonnaise.

Zesty Mayonnaise

¼ cup reduced fat mayonnaise
2 scallions, finely chopped (bulb and stalk)
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1-2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
Black pepper to taste

In a small bowl, mix all ingredients until creamy. Chill a few hours or overnight.

The original recipe states it serves 4, but in reality 2 people can easily eat all these mussels, they go down so easy. If there’s any leftover broth, sop it up with bread, or save it for another night to top some whole wheat pasta…

This is my go-to hot summer night dinner. It’s the perfect remedy for tourist traffic all summer long, especially when eating out on the deck.

Feel free to finish off the white wine with dinner. You can buy another bottle next week. Or tomorrow.

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