Tasked with making something luxurious that can be prepared at a low cost this month, I immediately thought of mussels. Impressive looking, delicious, environmentally sustainable and extremely healthy, mussels are a powerhouse of vitamins and minerals including zinc, iron, and vitamins A and B12.
Foodie tradition dictates that we should only be eating mussels in months containing the letter "r" - that is from September to April - so now is the time. Purple-sprouting broccoli is just coming into season, so this felt like a wholesomely good seasonal match. However, a quick word with my fishmonger reveals that we're actually fine to be eating them at any time of year - whatever spelling of the month - it turns out a big reason for not eating them in the summer months was down to fridges not being invented yet!
Amen to our fridges and to having a cool beer on hand to serve with this recipe. Use any beer you like to make the cooking broth. I love drinking IPA, so I went with one with a citrus tone (and not too many hops), but you don't need to buy one specifically. Cider could also do the trick or a splash of any white wine that's asking to be used up!
Mussel tagliatelle with purple sprouting broccoli and beer
A relatively low-cost, but special, supper that can be easily adapted using other herbs or spaghetti if you don't have tagliatelle. Some crusty bread to serve alongside wouldn't go amiss either.
- 1.5kg fresh mussels
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- knob of butter
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 red chilli, finely chopped (or to taste)
- few sprigs rosemary, leaves finely chopped
- 200ml beer
- 400g dried tagliatelle
- 250g purple sprouting broccoli, broken into florets
- 6 tbsp crème fraîche
- 2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
- lemon wedges
Start by cleaning the mussels - scrub and scrape them, removing the 'beards' by pinching them off (the beard is the clump of fibers that sprouts from the shell). Discard any broken mussels and any that stay open when tapped.
Heat the oil in a large pan and add the butter. Tip in the onion and cook until softened, then add the garlic, chilli and rosemary and cook for a few more minutes. Pour in the beer and cook until the volume of liquid has reduced by about half.
Meanwhile, bring a large pan of water to the boil and cook the tagliatelle for about 10 minutes, or until al dente.
While the pasta is cooking, add the purple sprouting broccoli and the crème fraîche to the vegetables and stir well. Tip in the prepared mussels and cook on medium-high until all the mussels have opened - discard any mussels that do not open.
Meanwhile, drain the pasta, reserving a little of the pasta water. Tip the tagliatelle into the pan with the mussels, and add a splash of the pasta water if it looks like it needs it.
Serve topped with chopped parsley and lemon wedges on the side.
Ramona Andrews is a highly experienced food writer and digital content producer. She worked for the BBC Food website for many years, during which time the site won a BAFTA nomination, World Food Media Award and Guild of Food Writers Award. After studying to be a chef, she went to work for the UKTV Food website (now Good Food Channel) and has also worked as a restaurant reviewer for Time Out and Square Meal. She now lives in Bristol and dedicates much of her time to working on food policy change campaigns, as well as keeping her hand in recipe testing and shooting for bigger food clients and publications in her kitchen studio. The Lazy Susan team are looking forward to giving the delicious recipes she’s creating for our blog a try.