Mussels in a Spicy Tomato Sauce - Cozze in Salsa di Pomodoro Piccante Basilico
What wonderful way to begin a meal with an appetizer of Mussels in a Spicy Tomato Basil Sauce? The rocky coastal regions of Italy, as well as the US, are rich in mussels, or Cozze. It’s the most popular dish in Italy, especially on the Amalfi Coast.
PREPARATION: 40 Minutes – makes 4 to 6 servings
¼ cup pure golden olive oil
8-10 garlic cloves, sliced thin with a razor blade – like in Good-fellas (the movie)
1 28-ounce can San Marzano plum tomatoes, crush by hand
½ cup white wine
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
½ teaspoon crush red pepper
3-4 pounds mussels, soaked and scrubbed clean
1 tablespoon unsalted butte
12-15 large fresh basil leaves, sliced thin
Place the mussels in a bowl in the sink and run under cold water. Sort through, tapping any that are open lightly on a surface to see if they close shut. Discard the ones that remain open. Mussels attach themselves to underwater surfaces using thin membranes referred to as "beards." Brush gently to get rid of beards and any debris on the outer shell. Fill the bowl with water, add a liberal amount of salt and set the mussels aside.
Heat the olive oil in the 6-quart Dutch oven over medium-high heat 300˚F (150˚C). Add the sliced garlic, and cook until the garlic sizzles and turns just golden around the edges, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes, rinse out the can with ½ cup white wine, and add to the Dutch oven. Season with the Italian seasoning, salt, and crushed red pepper. Bring to a boil, and simmer until slightly thickened, about 10 minutes.
Once the sauce has thickened, add the mussels, stir, and adjust the heat to low 210˚F (99˚C) so the sauce is just simmering. Cover, and simmer until the mussels open, about 5 to 7 minutes. Do not overcook.
When the mussels have opened, (discard any that have not). Transfer the mussels to a serving bowl. To the sauce, add the butter and basil, stir to combine and pour the spicy sauce over the mussels. Serve immediately with garlic bread.
Note: Instead of the canned tomatoes, you can use 3 pounds of plumb tomatoes, peeled and seeded.