Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Cheap Eats

There is no better $7 meal than homemade Mussels Marinara. It's just that simple. Mussels can be found at pretty much any local grocery store, in the Seafood Section of course, and they usually go for about $2/pound. Add that can of whole, peeled plum tomatoes you've got in the pantry, garlic, onions, and pasta and you've got a delicious, super easy, and quick meal for any week night.
  • First step is to put your pasta water on to boil. You know that though. We recommend a long pasta- linguini is best. You'll need a pound or so.
  • Once your water is on, start with 2 pounds of cleaned mussels. Now, you don't want to run them under cold water, just strip out the beard (the stringy seaweed thing that helps the mussel connect itself to the rock underwater) and set aside. The cold water can dilute the yummy brine-y-ness that make the dish so special and succulent. Be sure to discard any opened mussels, as they probably will send your tummy into a tail-spin.
  • Once you've cleaned the mussels, start some olive oil in a high-sided saute pan (about 2-3 tablespoons will do). Turn the heat to medium high, dice up a small onion and add to the pan. Chop up the garlic (we are garlic freaks, so we usually add about half a head!) and add to the pan, stirring to coat with the olive oil.
  • Now, for the tomatoes. We love San Marzano. They're hard to find but absolutely worth the $3/can price! Instead of just dumping the whole tomatoes into the pan and waiting for them to break down, you have to get your mitts in there and break the tomatoes up one by one as you add them. Once they're in, pour the juice from the tomatoes into the pan as well, and stir. Salt and Pepper here, and stir occasionally as the liquid cooks out (Since you'll be adding the mussels and they'll steam open and let out their salty liquid content you want the mixture to be fairly condensed). This usually takes about 10-15 minutes.
  • Once the mixture is thickened, add the pasta to the water, give it a stir and add a palmful of salt and a quick turn of olive oil. Then, add the mussels to the tomato/garlic/onion mixture and cover. It should take no more than 5 minutes for them to open. Towards the end of that 5 minutes, open the top and add crushed red pepper flakes to taste (we love it spicy, but you may not). Stir and re-cover until the pasta done.
  • Drain the cooked pasta and add by the scoopful to the pan - you want to make sure that the ratio of pasta to sauce is juuuuuuust right... plenty of sauce to about a cup of pasta per serving. Add fresh chopped parsley for color as well as grated parmesan and crushed red pepper if you're interested. Bon Appetit!

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