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Mussels Arrabbiata (spicy tomato sauce)

Make sure you have plenty of fresh, crusty baguette or rustic Italian bread when you make this dish, because you will want to sop up every last bit of sauce!  This dish is easy to make, presents beautifully and delivers on taste.  The heat has a good kick, but is not too overwhelming.

2 lbs mussels, scrubbed and debearded*
2-3 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, fine dice (though leeks and shallots work beautifully if you have them!)
2 medium carrots, fine dice
2 celery stalks, fine dice
4-6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
2 cups nice dry white wine
1 Jar Due Cellucci Spicy Arrabbiata Sauce
Salt & Pepper (about 1/4 – 1/2 tsp each)
Italian seasoning (about 1/4 -1/2 tsp)
Crushed red pepper to taste (about 1/4 tsp, they add heat!)
Parsley, chopped.  To toss at end of cooking and some left fresh for final garnishing.
Warm crusty bread, for serving

1. Heat oil in large tall stock pot and sauté onion, carrots, and celery until soft. Add garlic and sauté for another minute.
2. Add wine, followed by Arrabbiata sauce, the Italian seasoning, red pepper flakes and bring back up to a simmer.
3. Add mussels and cover, steam for 4-6 minutes over medium heat until mussels all open.  (Use a tall stock pot, as mussels really grow once they start to open.)  Any unopened mussels should be tossed away as they will not be safe to eat.
4. Taste broth and season with salt & pepper to taste.  Toss with plenty of chopped parsley just before serving.


*How to clean and debeard mussels

Clean: Soak mussels in a large bowl of cold sea salted water to purge any sand.  Rub mussels to remove any debris or seaweed on the outer shells.

Debeard: Mussels attach themselves to stable surfaces using thin, sticky membranes referred to as “beards.” Many store bought mussels will already be debearded, but you’ll likely find a few beards left over.  To remove, grasp it between your thumb and forefinger and pull firmly downwards towards the hinged-end of the mussel shell until it comes out and discard.

Check for Dead Ones Prior to Cooking: Mussels (and clams) tend to gape open when they’re dead. Not all gaping mussels are dead though. You can check if they are alive and fresh by squeezing them a few times.  If the mussel closes itself back up, it’s alive. If not…toss it!  Post cooking: ANY mussels that do not open after cooking should be thrown away.