Parmesan-topped mussels

    1 hour 20 min

    Make this stylish starter when you can buy large mussels, such as the green-lipped mussels from New Zealand, as smaller ones can toughen when grilled. Although you only need 24 mussels for this recipe, buy at least 30 because some might have to be discarded. Serve the mussels with chunks of wholemeal bread.

    12 people made this

    Serves: 4 

    • 100 ml (3½ fl oz) white wine or fish stock, preferably home-made
    • 1 large onion, very finely chopped
    • 3 large garlic cloves, crushed
    • about 30 large mussels, scrubbed and beards removed
    • 50 g (1¾ oz) fresh wholemeal bread
    • 30 g (1 oz) parsley, chopped
    • 30 g (1 oz) Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
    • ½ tbsp finely grated lemon zest
    • pinch of cayenne pepper
    • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
    • lemon wedges to serve

    Prep:1hr10min  ›  Cook:10min  ›  Ready in:1hr20min 

    1. Pour the wine or stock into a large saucepan, add the onion and garlic, and bring to the boil over a high heat. Boil rapidly for 1 minute. Add the mussels, cover the pan tightly and cook for 2–3 minutes, shaking the pan occasionally. Uncover the pan and give the mussels a good stir. Using tongs, remove the mussels from the pan as soon as they open and set them aside. Discard any mussels that remain shut.
    2. When the mussels are cool enough to handle, remove and discard the top shell. Place 24 mussels on the half shell in a single layer in a shallow flameproof dish, loosening the mussels from the shells but leaving them in place. Set the dish aside.
    3. Preheat the grill to high. Put the bread in a food processor or blender and process to fine crumbs. Add the parsley, Parmesan, lemon zest, cayenne pepper and olive oil, and process until well blended.
    4. Using your fingers, put a mound of the cheese and crumb mixture on each mussel and pack it down firmly so the mussel is completely covered. Put the dish under the grill and cook for 2–3 minutes or until the crumb topping is lightly browned. Divide the mussels among individual plates and serve with lemon wedges.

    Another idea

    For French-style mussels in cider, put 1 litre (1¾ pints) dry cider in the pan with the onion and garlic and boil until reduced to 600 ml (1 pint). Stir in the parsley, lemon zest and cayenne pepper. Add the mussels and steam them open. Transfer the mussels to serving bowls. Season the cooking liquid to taste and ladle it over the mussels.

    Plus points

    Mussels are a good source of iron, an essential component of haemoglobin in red blood cells responsible for transporting oxygen around the body. * Parmesan cheese is a very hard cheese made from unpasteurised skimmed cow's milk. Although Parmesan has a high fat content, it also has a strong flavour and a little goes a long way in a recipe. * Cayenne pepper, made from one of the smallest and hottest chillies, is often used in herbal medicine to stimulate the circulation.

    Each serving provides

    Excellent source of iron, niacin, vitamin B1, vitamin B6, vitamin B12. Good source of selenium. Useful source of calcium, copper, folate, potassium, vitamin A, vitamin C, zinc.

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