The general idea for cooking mussels hasn't changed all that much: you start with some aromatics like garlic, onion, shallots, or leeks; you go on with tomatoes, or a splash of white wine, probably a little butter; and you finish by adding the mussels, which open to release their delicious brine, forming that wonderful "pot liquor" for sopping up with crusty bread. That broth is the best part of any mussels recipe.
So this recipe is intriguing: no crusty bread in sight. But by adding in pearls of cooked Israeli couscous (a larger variety, though you could also use the smaller couscous to substitute) and simmering them for the last few minutes of cooking, they begin soaking up that musselly, tomato-and-fresh-oregano broth. I loved the way this became something halfway between traditional mussels and a rich soup. It was less messy to eat and that broth-with-cous-cous base pretty much stole the show.
Adapted from Lucid Food.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large yellow onion, diced (about 1 1/2 cups)
- 4 medium cloves garlic, minced (about 4 teaspoons)
- 5 sprigs fresh oregano, leaves picked off and chopped
- 1 (28 ounces) can whole peeled tomatoes, broken up into 1/2- to 1/4-inch pieces
- 1/2 cup white wine
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 cups Israeli couscous
- 2 pounds mussels, scrubbed and debearded (discard any that do not close when tapped)
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onion and cook, stirring often, until softened and just starting to brown, four to five minutes. Add the garlic and oregano and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes and white wine. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook, uncovered, for 15 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Meanwhile, heat 2 1/2 cups water and 1 teaspoon salt in a medium saucepan over high heat until boiling. Add cous cous, reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until cous cous is softened, about 10 minutes.
Add the cooked couscous to the tomatoes and stir well to combine. Nestle the mussels in and amongst the couscous, cover the pan, and increase heat to high. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mussels are all completely open, 1 to 3 minutes (discard and mussels that do not open).
Add half the parsley and stir to combine. Divide the mussels and cous cous amongst four serving bowls top with remaining parsley and serve.