I have been so excited to share this dish with you all! The flavors are amazing and I really think you’ll enjoy what I have to show you! This Mussels alla Puttanesca is something to take note of.
Some of you may not have even heard of the word “puttanesca” let alone know what it is. Puttanesca is an Italian sauce named after women in a particular… industry shall we say. It’s fragrant, it’s complex in texture and goes with so many things! When I’ve had it, it was usually served with chicken, which is a fine application but I knew it could be so much more.
If you have ever seen the famous San Franciscan, Italian-immigrant-inspired dish called Ciopinno, this is where I’m getting my inspiration. Puttanesca is a delicious sauce of tomatoes, anchovies, olives, capers, lemon and herbs with a healthy amount of olive oil. No wonder the Italians have that glow about them! This sauce is the fountain of youth, I’m telling ya (not really but you’ll fall in love with this sauce I promise!)
Now some of you might be thinking woah Marlee! Anchovies??? Yeah! They’re amazing little fish that are hidden in so many sauces you use almost regularly. Anchovies are a great secret weapon because they’re super salty (from the packing) and give an excellent meaty flavor to any sauce they’re added to! I love using them in super- secret ninja ways because then I fell really sneaky!
The trick to making this awesome sauce liquid enough to steam the mussels is deglaze with white wine a few times throughout the process. Vermouth is also an excellent option because of the licorice flavor it lends which pairs nicely to the fennel and tarragon!
Note about mussels
I want to stress the importance of getting your mussels from a good reputable source. Don’t get any that are “Manager’s Special” or any of that nonsense. Ask for the freshest mussels they have and be sure to use them within a day or two. Keep them wrapped up and on top of ice; mussels live in nice cold water so to keep them fresher, longer, you have to mimic their living environment (but don’t put them in water!). Also, mussels come with little hairs that helped them attach to pier poles and what not called beards and you want to remove those before cooking. Just simply yank them out.
I love to eat this with a nice piece of toasted, crusty bread to help sop up all of that yummy sauce! I also like to finish it off, before serving, with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, as well as some fresh herbs to compliment the sauce.
My suggestions include:
- Fennel fronds
Enjoy this fantastic dish and let me know how you like this fancy schmancy sauce!
- 1/2 bulb fennel thinly sliced
- 1/2 pounds fresh mussels
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 1 each shallot minced
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 1 each anchovy
- 1 dry pint cherry tomatoes
- 1/2 cup black olives rough chop
- 1 tablespoon capers
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 each lemon juiced
- tarragon and fennel fronds for garnish
Saute fennel, garlic and shallot in olive oil over medium high heat until translucent.
Add tomato paste and cook until caramelization occurs, about 2 minutes. Deglaze with some white wine and reduce until thickened.
Add anchovy and cook, allowing to melt within the sauce, about 4 minutes.
Add cherry tomatoes, olives, capers, and oregano and the rest of the white wine. Allow sauce to reduce.
Add mussels and cover with a lid until mussels begin to open, about 5-7 minutes.
Once mussels are cooked, add a squeeze of lemon juice and garnish with herbs. Serve with bread and enjoy.