Mussels Stuffed with Spinach and Parmesan

We did seven fishes for Christmas Eve this year.

Menu:

  1. Smoked salmon platter
  2. House smoked tuna dip
  3. Lobster bisque
  4. Caesar salad with anchovies
  5. Mussels Stuffed with Spinach and Parmesan
  6. Shrimp with mayo, lemon and red onions
  7. Crab Cakes

The smoked tuna dip and mussels were new recipes and both were great.  Here’s a couple Xmas Eve photos and recipe for the mussels – great because you can make them totally ahead, pop them under the broiler when ready to serve and they’re super tasty.

Xmas eve mass… church asked everyone to take photos before mass started
posing girls

Owen was the Xmas Even entertainment

opening presents

Xmas jammies 2017
girl power

Mussels Stuffed with Spinach and Parmesan

Fine Cooking Issue 14

  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 4 Tbs. finely chopped shallots
  • 1 tsp. cracked black pepper
  • 4 sprigs parsley
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 tsp. chopped fresh thyme (omit if fresh isn’t available)
  • 28 medium mussels (about 2 lb.), sorted and cleaned

for the stuffing:

  • 2 Tbs. butter or olive oil
  • 2 cups lightly packed, washed, stemmed, and chopped fresh spinach
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 3 Tbs. chopped parsley
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Combine the wine, 2 Tbs. of the shallots, pepper, parsley sprigs, bay leaf, and thyme in a pot (with a lid) large enough to accommodate the mussels when their shells have opened. Bring to a boil, add the mussels, cover, and steam until just opened, 2 to 3 minutes. Try not to steam the mussels longer than necessary, because they’ll be cooked again later. Remove the mussels with a slotted spoon and set aside. Strain the cooking liquid through a strainer lined with several layers of cheesecloth and reserve.

For the stuffing—Heat the butter in a heavy-based pan. Add the remaining shallots and cook until soft, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the spinach, cover, and cook briefly until the spinach wilts. Uncover and cook until the liquid from the spinach evaporates, another 3 to 4 minutes. Add 1/2 cup of the strained mussel liquid and cook until the mixture is almost dry, about 5 minutes. Add the cream and again cook until the mixture is almost dry, about 10 minutes. Add the chopped parsley and season to taste with salt and pepper; the mixture should be quite peppery.

Heat the broiler. Remove the mussels from their shells. Make a bed of rock salt or crumpled foil on a baking sheet (to steady the shells) and arrange as many half shells as you have mussel meats. Put a mussel meat on each half shell and spoon a teaspoonful of the spinach mixture over each. Top with the grated cheese and broil until golden and bubbly, 4 to 6 minutes. Serve with small forks and bread to soak up the rich juices

12/2017 note: I made a double batch – with about 4 lbs of smallish mussels – way over 100 – and two reg bags of fresh spinach.  I ran out of spinach for the last bit so would make more spinach next time.

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Garlic and Lemon Pasta with Arugula

simple, fresh and tasty
the arugula is prolific in the garden now and our first crop of the year
yeay summer

Garlic and Lemon Pasta with Arugula

Bon Appetit, March 2005

1 pound spaghetti, dry
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon grated lemon peel
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup chicken broth
2 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 cup baby arugula   (I would use twice as much)
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
Accompaniments: freshly grated Parmigiano-reggiano, sea salt, freshly ground pepper, squeeze of lemon

Cook spaghetti in a large pot of salted boiling water until al dente. Meanwhile, in small saucepan, heat oil and butter over medium-low heat. Stir in garlic, lemon peel, lemon juice, broth, basil, salt and pepper and raise heat to medium-high. Bring to a gentle simmer, reduce heat and simmer 3 minutes.

Drain pasta, return it to its cooking pot and immediately pour the heated sauce over it, along with the arugula and parsley. Use tongs to gently toss the pasta and sauce together. Transfer pasta to heated serving bowl. Top with grated Parmigiano-reggiano, a light sprinkling of sea salt and freshly ground pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice.

Pea, Asparagus and Fava Bean Salad

Spring Greens

This recipe is in the latest Bon Appetit and I thought it would be a great dish to serve for Easter dinner.  It was tasty, pretty and very easy.  A keeper.

Bon Appetit, April, 2013

  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated Pecorino or Parmesan
  • 1 tablespoon (or more) fresh lemon juice
  • Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
  • 2 cups fresh fava beans (from about 2 pounds pods) or frozen fava beans, thawed (I used frozen edame as I couldn’t find any fava beans)
  • 2 bunches asparagus, trimmed, stalks peeled if thick
  • 1 cup shelled fresh peas (from about 1 pound pods) or frozen peas, thawed
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 shallot, thinly sliced
  • 4 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled

Whisk olive oil, Pecorino, and 1 tablespoon lemon juice in a medium bowl to blend. Season with salt, pepper, and more lemon juice, if desired. Set dressing aside.

If using fresh fava beans, cook in a large saucepan of boiling salted water until tender, about 4 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a colander set in a bowl of ice water (do not cook frozen beans). Drain and peel; place in a large bowl.

Return water in saucepan to a boil; add asparagus and cook until just tender, about 4 minutes. Using tongs, transfer to colander in ice water.

If using fresh peas, return water in saucepan to a boil; add peas and cook until tender, about 3 minutes (do not cook frozen peas). Drain; transfer to colander in ice water. Drain vegetables. Add to bowl with fava beans.

Combine vegetable oil and shallot in a small saucepan over medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until shallot is golden brown and crisp, 10-12 minutes. Transfer shallot to a paper towel-lined plate.

Add dressing to bowl with vegetables, season with salt and pepper, and toss to coat. Transfer salad to a serving platter and top with shallot and bacon.

DO AHEAD: Dressing and vegetables can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover separately and chill.

 

Monday Night Pasta

We have been trying to do meatless mondays for quite a while now.  We have come to perfect this pasta dish over the past few months.  It is quite adaptable and is a good way to clean out the refrigerator on a Monday night.  It is definately worth it to make your own beans instead of using canned.  They are firmer and stand out better with the pasta.

beautiful swiss chard from our garden
the swiss chard wintered over from last year and is growing great
lots of garlic is always a good thing
the beans and greens before putting the pasta in
in goes the pasta and lots of parmesan

Monday Night Pasta (Pasta with Garlic and White Beans)

Serves 4-6

  • 6-8 cloves of garlic or more, sliced very thin
  • olive oil
  • butter
  • bag of cannelini beans, or any white beans  (canned beans work just fine too)
  • bunch of swiss chard, or broccoli, or broccoli rabe or whatever is left in the refrigerator
  • vegetable broth or chicken broth
  • salt, pepper, red pepper flakes if feeling spicy
  • 1 lb of penne, rigatoni or whatever pasta you want
  • parmesan cheese

Soak beans in a pot of water overnight. The next day drain them and rinse them.  Boil in a pot with salt until tender.

In large saute pan, heat a few tablespoons of olive oil and a tablespoon or so of butter.  Saute the garlic on very low heat making sure you don’t burn it.  Take your time and get them nice and soft.  Don’t be stingy on the olive oil.  When the garlic is nice and soft, about 15 minutes, add the greens to the pan and saute them for a few minutes.  Add a few splashes of broth and put a top on the pan to help the greens cook.  After the greens wilt put the beans in and keep the pan on low.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta al dente or even a touch under al dente as it will cook a little bit more with the sauce.  When pasta is done, drain the pasta but keep a cup of the pasta water.  Once the pasta is drained, put it in with the beans and greens.  Mix everything up and add enough pasta water to get it to a nice creamy consistency.  Adding pasta water is a great trick that brings everything together.  Add salt and pepper if you want and last but not least lots of parmesan.  Serve and enjoy.

Fettuccine with Ham, Mushroom and Peas

This is a weekly stand by that we have been making for years and years.  It’s not really much of a recipe, but we base it on a recipe from a cookbook that I think somebody gave us as a wedding present – almost 23 short years ago.  Everybody likes it and it couldn’t be easier to make.  (Jack always gripes about the mushrooms but tough luck Jack.)

We made this last Sunday and made it even better because we made homemade pasta.  We haven’t made pasta in a super long time and me and Sophie had fun doing it together.  I don’t think she ever made it before.

The pasta dough recipe we use is from the New Basics. It makes about the equivalent of one pound of dried pasta:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 eggs

Place the flour in a food processor, and with the motor running, add the eggs one at a time.  Continue processing for 15 seconds.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead until it has formed a smooth, firm ball.

Cover with a kitchen towel and let rest for 30 minutes.

Divide the ball into 5 pieces.  Use pasta maker to roll out each ball for whatever kind of pasta you want.

Back to the ham, mushrooms and peas: in goes the butter:

Adapted from 365 Ways to Cook Pasta, Marie Simmons

Paglia E Fieno

  • 6 T. butter (we usually use much less)
  • 12 oz. mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/2 to 1 cup of frozen peas
  • 1 cup heavy cream (we usually use skim milk because it’s in the fridge and it works fine…but of course tastes better if use use whole milk or half and half)
  • 1/2 cup slivered cooked ham
  • 1 lb fettuccine
  • lots of parmesean
  1. Heat 3 T. butter in skillet; add mushrooms and saute for about 5-10 minutes.  Add the peas and cook for a few minutes.  Add 1/2 cup of cream, heat to boiling and simmer until thickened.  Add the ham and season with salt and pepper.
  2. Meanwhile, cook the fettuccine in boiling water until cooked al dente.  Drain when done.
  3. Throw the fettuccine in the skillet with the mushrooms, ham and peas – put in more butter and cream if you want it.  A scoop or two of pasta water is good also.  Add lots of parmesean cheese and more salt and pepper if you want.

Enjoy

Vegetable Lasagna

Jane Brody

  • 1 ½ cups chopped onion (1 ½ large)
  • 2 large cloves , finely minced (2 teaspoons)
  • 6 oz. mushrooms, coarsely chopped
  • 3 T. sherry
  • 1 T. butter or margarine
  • 2 large stalks broccoli chopped (about 4 cups)
  • ½ lb. spinach, washed well and chopped (about 2 cups)
  • ½ t. low salt alternative
  • 16 oz. (2 cups) low-fat cottage cheese
  • 4 oz. part-skim mozzarella, shredded (about 1 cup)
  • 3 T. grated Parmesan
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley or 1 T. dried
  • 2 eggs
  • ¼ t. freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ t. salt, if desired
  • 3 cups tomato sauce (homemade or canned)
  • 8 oz. lasagna noodles, cooked al dente

In a large skillet, sauté the onion, garlic, and mushrooms in sherry and butter until the vegetables are soft.

Add the chopped broccoli, spinach, and salt.  Stir to combine the ingredients, reduce the heat, cover the skillet, and simmer the mixture for about 5 minutes or until the broccoli is tender-crisp.

In a medium bowl, combine the cottage cheese, mozzarella, Parmesan, parsley, eggs, pepper, and salt.

In a baking pan approximately 13 x 9 x 2 inches, spread ½ cup of tomato sauce on bottom.  Layer the lasagna ingredients as follows: Arrange three strips of lasagna noodles on the bottom.  Spread half of the cheese mixture on noodles, then half of the vegetable mixture, and 1 cup of the tomato sauce.  Repeat, starting from the noodles.  End with a layer of noodles topped with the remaining ½ cup of tomato sauce.  Sprinkle the top of the lasagna with additional Parmesan, if desired.

Bake the lasagna at 375 for 25 minutes.  Let it stand for about 10 minutes before serving it.