When I was studying in Europe a few years ago, I was introduced to so many new and delicious dishes (along with truly unique dining experiences). One thing that I fell in love with immediately was mussels drenched in flavorful broth. I even remember the exact restaurant in Copenhagen where I became obsessed with them. Little did I know how easy it was to make such a complex-looking dish on your own.
These drunken mussels are made with garlic, shallot, and white wine. My favorite part is dunking some crusty bread into the soup to sop up all the delicious flavors. The recipe takes less than half an hour to make and barely any work, aka a perfect recipe to impress your friends, family, or someone special 😛
For many students, cooking mussels may be intimidating because seafood is typically expensive and not many people have ever tried to cook mussels. Rest assured because mussels are relatively cheap (about $5/lb) and they take only several minutes to be cooked. One thing to note when dealing with mussels is how to clean debeard them. Serious Eats gives a great tutorial on how to shop for and clean mussels.
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1 shallot, thinly sliced
- 2 tsp garlic, minced
- 1/2 cup dry white wine (Sauvignon Blanc)
- 1 1/2 lb mussels, cleaned and debearded
- 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1 tbsp parsley, roughly chopped
- pinch salt and pepper
- 1 lemon, cut into slices
- Optional: 1/2 loaf French bread, sliced
- Add butter to a large pot on medium heat.
- Once the butter has melted, add shallots and garlic. Saute for 2 minutes until fragrant.
- Add the wine and increase the heat to high. Once boiling, add the mussels and cover with lid. Let the mussels cook until they open (about 3 minutes).
- Remove lid and add cream. Reduce heat to medium and stir. Cook for another 2 minutes letting the liquid reduce.
- Top with parsley, salt and pepper.
- Squeeze lemon juice on top before serving.
- Optional: Lightly saute both sides of the sliced bread pieces on a medium pan with olive oil.
One of my favorite scenes from Julie and Julia, which I have watched about a million times now, is when Julie is making bruschetta for her and her husband. I love watching the French bread sizzling in the pan and her husband’s reaction to how delicious it is. Unlike many of the rich, buttery French dishes that are made in the movie, bruchetta is a light and healthy Italian appetizer.
Bruschetta, although from Italy, reminds me of pan con tomate, a popular Spanish tapa (originally from the Catalonia region). Last summer when I was living in Spain, I ate a looot of pan con tomate, which is just toasted bread with tomato pulp and drizzled olive oil on top. During our daily snack break at work, my coworkers would all order pan con tomate, which was a simple, yet delicious snack. Bruschetta is different in that it uses diced tomatoes instead of tomato pulp. The tomatoes are also tossed with olive oil, basil, garlic, and parmesan cheese.
For this bruschetta, I used heirloom tomatoes – some were dark purple and some bright red. Just adding a little bit of garlic and basil made it so flavorful, but I also used balsamic vinegar to give it a little kick. This yummy appetizer can be whipped up in 15 minutes and doesn’t require any cooking. It is a perfect snack for a hot summer day or hors d’oeuvre for a dinner party.
- 3 medium tomatoes, diced
- 5 leaves fresh basil, roughly chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
- 1/2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- pinch of salt
- pinch of pepper
- 1/2 loaf French or Italian bread, cut into slices
- In a bowl, toss all of the ingredients except the bread together.
- In a medium pan, heat 2 tbsp olive oil on medium-high heat. Toast bread slices on both sides until golden brown.
- Top bread with tomato mixture.
In case you haven’t noticed by now, I’m constantly looking for clever ways to make foods healthier by using substitutions, for example, using Greek yogurt or avocado in desserts. So when I found out you could make mashed potatoes using a healthy vegetable, I was very intrigued. Mashed potatoes are the ultimate Thanksgiving comfort food. However, even though potatoes are a vegetable, they are very starchy and even less healthy when butter and cream are added.
Cauliflower, on the other hand, is full of vitamins and minerals and has numerous health benefits. Because it doesn’t have much flavor, when it is steamed and blended it’s not that much different from real mashed potatoes. For flavor, add some Parmesan cheese, garlic, and herbs. This magical veggie can also be used to disguise carbs in other dishes such as cauliflower crust and cauliflower fried rice.
The cauliflower version is actually easier than mashing real potatoes since all you need is a blender, saving your arm from a serious work-out. It tastes best when combined with meat, fish, or other protein. If you’re skeptical about cauliflower mashed “potatoes” or think it’s too extreme, you can mix the blended cauliflower with your regular mashed potatoes. For more healthier alternatives to Thanksgiving recipes, check out this article on Spoon University. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
- 1 head of cauliflower
- 1 garlic clove
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
- pinch salt and pepper
- Gather ingredients and boil a pot of water.
- Cut cauliflower into florets and place in a steamer. Steam for 10 minutes until tender. (If you don’t have a steamer, place cauliflower in a bowl with just enough water to cover the bottom of the bowl. Cover bowl with a paper towel and microwave for 4-5 minutes.)
- Heat olive oil in a small skillet. Smash garlic and cook for 1 minute on each side on medium heat until browned.
- Put steamed cauliflower in a food processor, along with garlic, Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper. Blend well.