June 9, 2010 in Food

Mussels good for the body

Eating Well reports sweet meat full of omega-3s and has heart, mental health benefits
Susan M. Selasky Detroit Free Press
 

When cooked, mussels open up and reveal a morsel of sweet meat that ranks as a top food for omega-3 fatty acids. Here, steamed mussels in garlic wine sauce.
(Full-size photo)

Mussels may boost your mood as well as your heart.

When cooked, mussels open up and reveal a morsel of sweet meat that ranks as a top food for omega-3 fatty acids. The May/June issue of EatingWell magazine reports how good omega-3s are for the brain – improving moods and possibly mental health – as well as having heart-health benefits.

For a quick meal for two, you can’t beat mussels – an easy and inexpensive option.

Most mussels are sold in netted or perforated bags, which makes it easy to sniff and inspect them. When buying mussels, check the date on the package and make sure they smell fresh. Blue mussels are the most common ones sold at grocery stores and have a dark blue-black oblong shell. They are about 2 to 3 inches long.

On a package of mussels I bought, the tag had the harvest date, where it was harvested, the shipped date and the use-by date stamped on it.

When buying mussels, even in the bag, make sure the shells are tightly closed. Or, if they are slightly open, they should snap shut when tapped. This is a sign that they are alive and fresh.

Avoid mussels that seem heavy; this could mean they are full of sand or mud.

It’s best to cook mussels soon after buying them, but they will keep about 2 days in the refrigerator. Keep the mussels in their original package when storing. Place the package in a large bowl on top of a bed of ice. This will keep them cold and allow them to breathe. Keep an eye on the ice and drain away the water. You don’t want them sitting in the water. Cover the mussels loosely with a few damp paper towels.

When ready to cook, remove the mussels from the bowl and the netting. Check the mussels again and make sure they are alive. Toss out any that are open or that don’t close when tapped.

Scrub the mussels under cold running water and trim away any beards hanging from the shells.

The cooking is easy. Steam them in a small amount of clam juice, wine or water for about 4 minutes or until the shells open. Be sure to discard any mussels that don’t open, but don’t discard the cooking broth.

Serve the mussels, drizzled with the broth and plenty of crusty bread to sop it up.

Mussels in Garlic Wine Broth

If you like mussels, this is a terrific quick meal for two. From and tested by Susan M. Selasky for the Free Press Test Kitchen.

1 tablespoon sea salt

4 ounces dry angel hair pasta or spaghettini

2 pounds mussels, scrubbed and debearded

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

3 cloves garlic, peeled, coarsely chopped

2 large shallots, peeled, sliced thin

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

2 cups white wine such as sauvignon blanc

1 cup bottled clam juice or water from cooking pasta

1 cup chopped or diced tomatoes

1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley plus additional for garnish

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

4 half-inch-thick pieces, diagonally sliced French baguette

In a large stock pot, bring 6 quarts of water seasoned with sea salt to a boil.

Add the pasta and cook al dente, according to package directions. Remove 1 cup of the pasta cooking water if not using clam juice, and drain.

Meanwhile, prepare the mussels by scrubbing them under cool water and debearding them. Discard any mussels that are already open or that don’t close when you tap on the shell. Set aside.

In the same pot the pasta was cooked in, heat the olive oil with the butter. Add the garlic and sauté 30 seconds. Add the shallots and red pepper flakes and sauté another 2-3 minutes or until shallots are lightly browned. Add the wine and clam juice or reserved pasta cooking water, tomatoes, parsley and lemon juice and bring to a boil.

Add the mussels, cover the pot and reduce the heat to medium. Cook about 4 minutes or until the shells open.

Remove the pot from the heat.

Divide the cooked pasta among two serving bowls.

Discard any mussels that did not open. Using a slotted spoon, remove the opened mussels and place on top of the pasta.

Pour some broth over the mussels and the pasta. Serve the remaining broth on the side with the baguette for dipping.

Nutritional information per serving (includes about 1/3 cup of broth) : 666 calories, 13 grams fat (2 grams saturated), 36 grams protein, 90 grams carbohydrate, 47 milligrams cholesterol, 5 grams dietary fiber, 695 milligrams sodium.


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