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Easy breezy Mussels Marinara (without the shells):

November 10, 2014
  • DSCF3645Okay this is really not mussels’ marinara that way you may know it, but it is an easy and scrumptious dish to make and eat. And using a frozen package of mussels packed in a buttery, garlicky sauce makes life oh so easy.




  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 1 cup chopped mushroom
  • ½ cup white wine
  • ½ cup broth
  • Sun dried tomato paste to taste
  • 1 can organic tomato sauce
  • 1 tablespoon oregano leaves
  • 1 tablespoon parsley leaves
  • 1 tablespoon thyme
  • 1 tablespoon MSS
  • 1-2 boxes of mussel meat in buttery garlic sauce
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tablespoon chopped basil leaves
  • Pasta, as an accompaniment or bruschetta for dipping




First I heated the oil in a large pot over medium heat. I then added the bell pepper, MSS and herbs and sautéed until cooked. Adding the wine to the pot I allowed the mixture to reduce by half, and then added the tomatoes paste and sauce. Then I added the mussels to the pot and cooked for about 10 minutes then lowered the heat and allowed the sauce to simmer. If needed, you can add extra broth and adjust the seasoning according to your taste. Because the mussels came with a sauce that was rather tasty with garlic and butter but lacking something, I found additional salt, pepper and pepper flakes kicked it up a notch.

After mounding some brown rice pasta in the center of a beautiful white plate, I then topped with the marinara. For an appetizer, this can also be used as a dipping sauce with bruschetta. My pick of the night was a crisp salad with a really light dressing and a wonderful glass of wine. I cannot tell you how fabulous this is. It is such a wonderfully easy dish to create. You have to make it to appreciate it.




CHEESE AND SEAFOOD: I did my research and found mixing cheese and seafood is considered a no-no especially at true Italian dinner tables and/or restaurants and here are some reasons why:


  • Many seafoods have a delicate flavor and texture, while cheese tends to be more thick and heavy with a strong flavor, which can often overwhelm seafood.



According to the


So where did this commandment originate? One explanation may stem from gustatory common sense: seafood tends to have a more delicate constitution, and those subtle flavors can be drowned out by a heady, assertive cheese. Since cheese is produced by fermenting milk, microbial factors such as molds, enzymes, and friendly bacteria cause drastic changes to the milk’s chemical components and their flavors often become more intense. Cheese also loses moisture as it ages, further concentrating its complex flavors and fatty texture. It’s no wonder cheese can easily overpower seafood’s understated qualities.

Some ocean dwellers are especially delicate — such as flounder, haddock, clams, oysters, and Atlantic shad — and they should be carefully seasoned when cooked. This is why many recipes involving these proteins rely on simplicity; a sprinkling of green peppercorns, a quick lashing of lemon juice, perhaps a pad of tarragon butter. The stronger personalities of some cheeses would stomp out those subtle sweet and salty notes, leaving no flavors behind except for, well, cheese.

Another explanation for this taboo may lie in Italy’s geography. Major cheese-making regions such as Piedmont, Trentino Alto Adige, Lombardy, and Veneto are all largely landlocked. Their regions have a terroir that makes for easy grazing for livestock and, thus, their cuisines are largely accustomed to the addition of cheeses such as Grana Padano, Bra, or Asiago as both a primary and supporting ingredient. Given their distance from the sea, few people in these regions had ready access to a steady supply of fresh seafood (rivers or lakes notwithstanding, and not necessarily always a source of abundance). So, recipes may likely have been developed over the centuries without giving seafood any consideration.

As always, though, rules are meant to be broken. We’re not saying that you shouldn’t pair fish and cheese. Rather, we’re enthusiastic advocates for smartly coupling seafood and dairy, and in the hands of a skilled chef, recipes combining the two can raise the roof, elevating both ingredients to new heights. “When used correctly, cheese can enhance the flavors of many seafood dishes,” says Dennis Littley, a chef and culinary instructor with decades of experience under his belt. “Those old customs are falling by the wayside as chefs have become more creative with the blending of flavors. One of my most popular specials was a seafood Alfredo that included shrimp, scallops and lump crabmeat. It was amazing!”

You don’t need to be a classically trained chef to pair cheese and seafood at home. Consider pizza, where cured fillets of oily, briny anchovies mingle their oils with those of melted mozzarella. Or look to classic dishes such as sea bass with fresh chevré and chopped herbs, bagels with cream cheese and lox, and our personal dinner party favorite, salmon fillets dredged in a Parmesan-bread crumb mixture before being seared in butter. These dishes work, and they work well.

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