I have to admit, it was quite difficult to choose the very first recipe that I would share with you, there are just so, so many! But, seeing as my goal here is to provide meals that require minimal fuss, are easy enough to prepare and are quick and super delicious I thought that these mussels would fit the bill perfectly.
I am lucky enough to have a mother-in-law who also loves to cook, eat and create. our conversations flow in and out on the topic of food amongst other things and I was full of so much excitement when she handed me a jar full of this most wonderful smelling spice blend which I had never heard of before, Vadouvan. Its the French version of the Indian curry blend, Masala. It has the likes of cumin, cardamom, cloves and turmeric amongst other delightful flavours and the aroma is incredible!
So, as you can imagine, my mind was spinning with ideas on how to incorporate this into a dish. Ben and I are huge fans of these shelled gems and we are very fortunate to have fresh Mount Martha mussels available to us, plump and juicy morsels they are. I normally just cook them in a tomato, red wine based sauce, so I thought what if I was to add this spice blend into the mix? I gave it a try and we both scooped our portions straight out of the pan onto our plates, popped them into our mouths, looked at each other and said, "YUM!" needless to say we polished off the whole lot. Thank goodness for crusty bread, as we needed this to mop up every last drop!
I have made a note in my little notebook which I have come across just now as I read over the recipe that mentions this.... This was created on a night where the afternoon at A Mini Kitchen was slightly hellish! There may have been tears and a bit of a meltdown. Just another bump in the road of running a café. Just as well I have my happy place at home to dive deep into my kitchen meditation!
Serves 2 hungry humans as a main, or 4 as a starter
1kg mussels, debearded and scrubbed if necessary. (I use local, Mount Martha mussels)
1 leek, sliced
1 garlic clove, finely diced
2 sticks celery, finely sliced
1 tsp vadouvan spice mix
1 long red chilli, finely diced (I always keep the seeds in, but you can take out if you prefer)
400g can diced tomatoes (I like to use the better quality cans as I have found they produce the loveliest flavour)
1/4 cup white wine
salt & pepper
a really good handful of spinach, chopped
a handful of coriander, chopped
Heat about 2 tbsp. light olive oil in a large pan, with a lid, over a medium-low heat. add the leek, stirring for about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and stir again. Then add the celery and chilli and cook until the leek and celery are starting to soften and turn slightly golden.
Add the spice and cook for another minute. Add the tomatoes and wine and then cook for about 8 minutes then add the mussels. cover with the lid and cook for another 5 minutes or so. Stir through the spinach and coriander, salt and pepper and taste to check if it doesn't need any more seasoning or perhaps a squeeze of lemon juice. serve with thick slices of crusty bread to mop up all of those deliciously moreish juices.