Not everyone in my family loves mussels, so when that person leaves the rest of us to our own devices for dinner, I usually take advantage of the opportunity by heading to Whole Foods in search of a netted bag of mussels. This basil, bread crumb, and sun dried tomato mixture will forever change the way you prepare mussels. The finger-licking mixture gets into the mussel shells and floats in the olive oil base at the bottom of the plate, giving this seafood dish an extra kick with the powerful sun dried tomatoes, an herbal and summertime-esque infusion with the basil, and a satisfying texture with the toasted bread crumbs. We always make more mixture than we need, save the remainder in the fridge for up to a week, and use it to spread on toast, toss it into a scrambled egg dish, or maybe water it down with olive oil and lather it on to grilled vegetables.
Ingredients (For about 4 servings): 1 pound mussels, 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, 1/4 cup sun dried tomatoes, 1/2-3/4 cup toasted breadcrumbs (I use slices of a whole wheat honey grain boule from Whole Foods, but you can use whatever bread you like), 2 cloves garlic minced, 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil for mixture and a scant 1/4 cup for the pot, 1 tbsp toasted pine nuts (optional)
In a food processor, combine 1 clove of minced garlic with the basil, bread crumbs, and sun dried tomatoes. Pulse until they are all about the same size. Slowly add the olive oil through the feeder tube. Pulse to combine. Add the pine nuts if you are using them and pulse to combine.
Rinse and clean the mussels. Heat a large heavy-bottomed pot over high heat. Cover the bottom with olive oil (a few good swigs) and add the other clove of minced garlic. When the olive oil is nice and hot and looks about boiling, add the mussels. Cover and cook for about 5-6 minutes or until they all open.
Either add some of the mixture directly to the mussels in the pot and mix with a big spoon, or serve the mussels and then add the mixture to the plates. If you do not plan to save any of the mixture, add the whole shebang to the pot and mix with the mussels to combine. Pour the juices from the pot onto each dish and serve immediately.
Note that this dish calls for dunking bread to soak up all of those yummy juices and basil bread crumbs.
Inspired by Ina Garten’s Basil Bread Crumb recipe.