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Steamed Mussels and Fennel

Fennel is in season from autumn until spring, and with its hint of licorice flavor, it matches up perfectly with mussels. As the dead of winter is definitely upon us, the comforting smell of a seafood broth is always a wonderful way to warm yourself up.

Fennel really is the star of this dish. To prepare, simply cut the stems off, slice the bulb in half, remove the core and then slice or dice as required. The fine (hair-like) leaves are called fronds, and these can be sprinkled on the final dish or saved to decorate the tops of creamy soups.

Ingredients: (serves 3-4)

  • 2 pounds fresh mussels, rinsed (discard any broken shells and mussels that will not close)
  • 1 medium fennel bulb, diced
  • 1 large carrot, diced
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, diced
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp crushed red pepper
  • 1 cup dry white wine (preferably Sauvignon Blanc) with leftovers saved to enjoy with the mussels
  • 1 cup diced tomatoes (since they are not in season I used canned tomatoes)
  • Freshly ground pepper

Heat olive oil in a large pan, adding the fennel, onion, carrot and garlic. Sauté until vegetables are soft. Add the wine, tomatoes, fresh ground black pepper and crushed red pepper, stirring to combine. Add the rinsed mussels and cover the pan to steam for about 5 minutes. After steaming, discard any mussels that have not opened before serving. You can serve directly from the pan or transfer mussels into a bowl. Pour the vegetables and broth over them.

Make sure to serve with some crusty bread, as you will want to sop up all of the tasty broth! This dish can be served as an appetizer or as a main mid-day meal. Either way, pair it with some of the leftover Sauvignon Blanc you used in the recipe.