Saturday 20 June 2015

chilli mussels in a rich tomato sauce - a dinner worth sharing.

For the past two weeks during the weeknights Tristan has been away doing courses near Newcastle. This has meant it's been just Arthur and me. The first week I managed to have dinner at someones house nearly every night which was great except that Arthur was pretty pooy at me for never being home on time to feel him dinner.

The second week I had planned to be home some nights and did a small grocery shop so I wouldn't be tempted to get takeaway. I bought Tofu with the idea that Tristan doesn't like it so this was my chance to eat what I wanted without having someone complain there was no meat in it. I was a little excited on Monday but you know what it's not all it is cracked up to be.

I struggled.

I didn't enjoy anything I made and the tofu is still in the fridge, untouched. The idea of eating alone in front of the tv felt lonely.  I was completely unmotivated when there wasn't someone to cook for or share a meal with.

There was hopeful ideas for a few posts about cooking for one but I'm sorry to say I don't have any helpful hints or insightful knowledge on this subject. I don't really know how to do it myself so how can I tell all of you how to do it. So instead I will share this recipe for Chilli Mussels, which Tristan made last weekend when he was home that you can share with a partner, a friend, or a crowd around a table. It's a fun, full of flavour, finger-licking messy dinner which reminds me that cooking is all about sharing a meal with people who make you laugh and let you be you. What more can anyone ask for?

chilli mussels in a rich tomato sauce by salt sugar and i

chilli mussels in a rich tomato sauce.

serves 2 greedy people (or 4 with sides)

(Note: this can easily be double for a group, just increase the cooking times a little bit and obviously the size of your pot... don't do what I normally do and cram it all in a tiny pot then transfer it at the last minute and have two pots to wash up in the end.)

2 table spoons extra virgin olive oil
1 brown onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, finely diced
1 - 2 red chilli's, finely diced (depending on how spicy you like it)
2 table spoons tomato paste
1 lemon, juice and zest finely grated
1 cup white wine
800g can crushed tomatoes
2 teaspoons sugar
Cracked pepper, to taste
1kg pot ready mussels
1 bunch parsley, stalks finely sliced and leave roughly chopped
Crusty bread and salty butter, to serve

- In a large pot heat the olive oil on medium heat and add the onion, garlic, chilli and parsley stalks. Cook for about 5 minutes until onions have softened.

- Next add the tomato paste and lemon juice. When the tomato paste starts to stick to the bottom of the pot (but not burn) add your wine and scrape all the tomato paste that has stuck to the bottom off. This is a flavour hit!

- Add the crushed tomatoes, 1/2 cup water and the sugar and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for about 15 minutes. Taste and season with a pinch of pepper. You won't want to add any salt yet as the mussels let out salty water when they open as they cook.

- Once your sauce has simmered, add your pot ready mussels, cover with a lid and cook for about 2-4 minutes (if you have whopper mussels you will need to judge by eye). Check and see if they have all opened. If they haven't then cook for a further 2 minutes or sometimes all you need to do is leave the lid on with the heat off for an extra couple of minutes and they steam inside without over cooking.

- Stir through the parsley, take the pot to the table with plenty of napkins and dig in with a friend or two. Enjoy.

Note: any mussels that don't open in the cooking process (still jammed shut!) discard.

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