About the Recipe
Mussels were an integral part of my childhood. They were always available for the taking when other seafoods were scarce. We kids would pack a sandwich of homemade bread and maybe a slice of prosciutto, and walk to the beach at Stoia. When we began to get hungry, we'd gather mussels from the rocks and steam them over driftwood fires in an old tomato can. With the mussels and our sandwiches, we'd have a fine meal. When we were more ambitious, we'd gather datteri (sea dates), which were similar to mussels, but required more work, because they bore into soft rocks, and you'd have to break the rocks apart to get at them. They were worth it.
About the Recipe:
From 'La Cucina Di Lidia: Distinctive Regional Cuisine from the North of Italy by Lidia Bastianich and Jay Jacobs" (with the author's permission)
3 pounds medium-large muscles
4 bay leaves
6 tablespoons minced Bermuda onion
6 tablespoons minced roasted peppers
3 tablespoons minced seeded peperoncini
3 tablespoons minced Italian parsley
3 tablespoons virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Lemon wedges & parsley sprigs
In a nonreactive pot large enough to accommodate the mussels with room to spare, bring & cups of water to a boil, add the mussels, and cook, covered, for bout 5 minutes, shaking the pot occasionally, until all the mussels have opened.
Drain the mussels in a colander, discarding any that have remained closed and, if desired, reserve the liquid for another use.
Remove and discard the upper shells of the mussels, leaving the meats attached to the lower shells.
On a serving tray, arrange the mussels in a concentric, radiating pattern, like flower petals, and allow them to cool in the refrigerator.
In a bowl, blend all other ingredients except the lemon wedges and parsley sprigs.
When the mussels have cooled sufficiently (they should not be over-chilled), spoon about 1 teaspoon sauce over each and decorate with lemon wedges and parsley sprigs.
Note: Mussels may be scrubbed and rinsed in advance of use, but should not be debearded until just before they are cooked. Peperoncini, hot pickled green peppers, can be found in Italian groceries and most supermarkets.