Almost a fool-proof dish, and very healthy. Low in calories, high in potassium and, most importantly, very tasty. Also flexible. If you don't have olive oil, butter works. If you don't like fennel (though you must at least try it) skip it and add tomatoes, basil and shallots instead. I've even used red or rose wine in a pinch. Whatever you do, don't throw out the liquid. Serve this with bread, the traditional "frites" or pasta to soak up every last bit.
2-3 pounds of mussels
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 fennel bulb, trimmed and sliced thin
1 large onion, sliced
4-6 cloves of garlic, chopped
1-2 tablespoons of fresh chopped herbs such as Italian parsley
3 scallions, chopped
1 cup dry white wine
salt and pepper to taste
Long gone are the days of soaking mussels to get rid of the sand, most are line grown and grit free by the time they reach your kitchen, especially if you get them from a great place like the Southold Fish Market. Be sure to rinse them well, however. You can gently rip off the beards if you find any. Make sure to check closely for open or cracked ones, those you can discard. Once clean, cover with a moist towel and keep cold until you are ready to use them.
Meanwhile, in a large dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add fennel at let cook about 5 minutes until soft. Add onions and garlic, cook until softened about 4 more minutes. Add a pinch of salt to prevent browning if you'd like.
Add mussels to pot with herbs, scallions, white wine, a dash of salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Stir, cover and let cook until the mussels open, about 5 minutes. Discard any that are not open.
Grab a crusty loaf of bread, a cold bottle of Chardonnay (Paumanok Festival, 2009) and a big bowl for the shells. Enjoy!