Neapolitan-Style Mussels / Zuppa di cozze napolitana
(Serves 4 people)
For the crostini:
About 20 slices of bread, from one baguette
4 to 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, sliced in half
For the mussels:
4 pounds mussels
1 cup wine
1/3 cup lemon juice, from 3 to 4 lemons
About 1/4 cup olive oil
6 cloves garlic, finely diced
1 small onion, finely diced
1 stalk celery, finely diced
3 to 4 teaspoons red pepper flakes
32 ounces peeled, diced tomatoes
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 bunch, flat-leaf parsley, chopped
Sea salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 lemons, sliced in wedges (optional)
Preheat an oven to 375ºF
To make the crostini, brush both sides of each of the slices of bread with olive oil. Bake for 8-10 minutes until lightly browned. Rub each side of the crostini with the sliced garlic. Set aside.
To prepare the mussels, clean the mussels under running water, discarding any with broken shells. Trim the “beard” (the stringy portion) from the side. 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 heat until almost all the mussels have opened, about 10 minutes. (Discard any that haven’t opened.) Strain the liquid and set it and the mussels aside, separately.
In a large sauté pan, heat the olive oil and add the onions and celery and cook until they are transluscent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook for another minute. Add the tomatoes and 1 1/2 cups of the mussel cooking liquid oregano and 1/3 of the 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 a bit. The sauce should be quite dense. If it’s too dense, add more of the mussel cooking liquid. Add the mussels and reheat. Taste and add more salt if needed, plenty of freshly ground pepper, and the remaining parsley.
To serve, place a crostini at the bottom of each of 4 individual bowls. Spoon the mussels into the four bowls, distributing them evenly. Pour the sauce over the mussels. Add three crostini to each bowl and lemon wedges if desired. Enjoy!