Teglia di Cozze, Patate e Pomodori al Forno

Mussels Baked with Potatoes and Fresh Tomatoes

It Is a Common thing to serve potatoes as an accompaniment to fish. I like to go further and cook them with fish, whose flavor they lengthen and underscore. In this baked mussel platter, potatoes are joined with another ingredient that is particularly compatible with seafood, and with mussels to an exceptional degree—tomatoes.

The mussel meat is coated with a mixture of olive oil, garlic, parsley, bread crumbs, and Parmesan; the potatoes are boiled and sliced; the tomatoes are raw. The three are layered in a baking dish, the tomatoes uppermost, barely disclosing the saffron-colored mussel meat beneath. Cheery looking, and cheering to eat.

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds fresh mussels
  • 1 pound potatoes
  • 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
  • ¼ cup toasted, unflavored bread crumbs
  • ¼ cup freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano (Parmesan)
  • Black pepper in a grinder
  • 10 ounces fresh, ripe plum tomatoes
  • Salt

Method

  1. Soak the mussels in a sink or basin of cold water. Pull away each mussel’s protruding tuft of fibers, grasping it with your fingers. If the edge of the mussel shell is sharp and cutting, use a piece of thin cloth to grasp the tuft.
  2. Wash the mussels in at least 5 changes of clean, cold water, rubbing one against the other or scrubbing them with a stiff brush.
  3. Put the mussels in a tightly lidded pot without any water and turn on the heat to medium high. As soon as the shells open, which may happen very quickly, drain the mussels and set them aside to cool.
  4. Wash the potatoes and boil them with their skins on.
  5. Turn on the oven to 450°.
  6. When the mussels have cooled enough to handle, detach the meat from the shell and put it in a bowl. Add 3 tablespoons of the olive oil, the chopped parsley, chopped garlic, 2 tablespoons of the bread crumbs, 2 tablespoons of the grated cheese, and several grindings of pepper and mix well.
  7. Wash the tomatoes and skin them with a peeler. (Do not plunge them into boiling water—it would make them soggy.) Cut them in half lengthwise, remove the seeds, cut them lengthwise into ¼-inch-wide strips, and place them in a colander to drain.
  8. When the potatoes are done, drain them, peel them, and cut them into ¼-inch-thick slices. It doesn’t matter if the slices break up a little.
  9. Choose a 13 by 9-inch oven-to-table baking dish (or its equivalent) and smear the bottom with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Cover the bottom with a layer of potatoes, preferably without too much overlapping, but use up all the potatoes. Sprinkle with salt. Cover the potatoes with a layer of mussels and all the seasoning in their bowl. Sprinkle lightly with salt. Top with the tomato strips. Do not add salt. Sprinkle with the rest of the bread crumbs and grated cheese and pour over it the remaining olive oil in a thin, uniformly distributed stream.
  10. Bake in the uppermost level of the preheated oven for 15 to 18 minutes, until the top begins to form a pale brown crust. Remove from the oven and allow to settle for at least 5 minutes before serving.

Serving Suggestions

It can replace the first course of a seafood meal. It can be the only course for lunch or an informal dinner, followed by a salad of greens and then fresh fruit or ice cream. It would be a most attractive part of a warm buffet.

Loading
Loading
Loading