Aside from being delicious, mussels are a very healthy low-fat food naturally high in protein, selenium, zinc, iron, vitamin C, vitamin B12, folate, and Omega 3, and contain compounds that are thought to have aphrodisiac qualities.
In this recipe, I added farro to the mussels to keep the dish filling, healthy, and gluten free, but also to add a little crunch and texture to the dish. The sauce is loaded with flavors so if you want to make it extra delicious, serve with some garlic crostini to dip in the sauce.
INGREDIENTS for 2-4 servings:
- 1 cup/250 ml of farro cooked as directed
- 2 pounds/1 kilo fresh mussels
- ½ cup/125 ml of wine
- 2 ½ tablespoons of lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 cloves of garlic, 2 minced, 1 thinly sliced
- ½ small onion, finely diced
- 1 stalk of celery, finely diced
- 2-3 teaspoons dried red pepper flakes
- 16 ounces/400 gram peeled, diced tomatoes (preferably San Marzano variety, grown in the Valle del Sarno in Italy)
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 bunch of flat-leaf parsley
- Sea salt, to taste
- Fresh ground pepper, to taste
- 1 lemon, sliced in wedges
PREPARING THE MUSSELS:
- Clean the mussels under running water. For full instructions on storing, checking, cleaning and preparing mussels, check my link “how to check, clean and cook mussels”.
- In a sauté pan big enough to hold all the mussels in one layer, add the mussels, wine and lemon juice.
- Cover and steam over medium-high heat until almost all the mussels have opened. It is very important to not overcook the mussels, as they become pale, dry and shrunken. They need only a few minutes – just enough to open the shells. The bright orange color is a good sign that they are cooked enough.
- Strain the liquid and set it aside. Put the mussels in a container with a lid to keep them from drying out.
- In a large sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium-low heat, and add the onions and celery and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes.
- Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook for another minute.
- Add the tomatoes, 1 ½ cup of the set aside mussel liquid, oregano and 1/3 cup of chopped parsley.
- Turn the heat to high. Keep the heat high until it starts to boil, then turn the heat down to medium and cook another 10 minutes, reducing the sauce a bit. The sauce should be dense. If it’s too dense, add more of the mussel cooking liquid.
- Add the cooked farro and heat through.
- Add the mussels and the remaining parsley, and add salt and plenty of cracked pepper to taste. Stir for 1-2 minutes and serve with a wedge of lemon.