Italian mussel, potato and tomato bake

    6 hours 10 min

    This recipe is a variation of the baked rice with mussels and potatoes dish that is a traditional in the region of Puglia. The secret of this dish is the slow cooking and resting the dish for 4 or 5 hours before serving so the flavours really develop. It will smell so good you will want to serve right away, but try and wait! In fact, you can prepare this dish in the morning for that evening or the day before and store in fridge. Pop it in the oven for 10-15 minutes and then grill the top to crisp up the breadcrumbs.


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    Ingredients
    Serves: 8 

    • 3kg whole mussels
    • 1.5kg potatoes, peeled and sliced
    • 3 onions, sliced into rings
    • 5 handfuls of breadcrumbs, divided
    • 10 plum tomatoes, sliced in rounds
    • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
    • extra virgin olive oil, as needed
    • salt, to taste

    Method
    Prep:30min  ›  Cook:40min  ›  Extra time:5hr resting  ›  Ready in:6hr10min 

    1. Open closed mussels with a sharp knife, discard the empty half shells and collecting the liquid that's released. Strain the liquid by passing it through a sieve; set liquid and mussels aside.
    2. In a large bowl mix potato and onion slices; season well with plenty of olive oil, salt and parsley. Toss well.
    3. Lightly oil the bottom of a large casserole pot. Sprinkle with 1/5 of the breadcrumbs. Add 1/3 of the onion and potatoes, spreading the mixture out evenly in one layer. Cover with half of the mussels, shell side down, one close to the other to form a compact layer. Top with half of the sliced tomatoes, one close to the other. Drizzle with some oil and sprinkle with 1/5 breadcrumbs. Repeat the layers starting with potatoes and onions, then mussels, tomatoes, a drizzle of oil and 1/5 breadcrumbs. Finish with the remaining 1/3 of potatoes and onions and another 1/5 of breadcrumbs.
    4. Pour the reserved mussel water into the casserole pot; add as much water as needed to fill the dish halfway up the side. Cover pot with a tight lid or with some foil; cook on medium-low heat for 30 to 40 minutes, shaking the pot every so often to make sure nothing is sticking to the bottom but don't be tempted to lift of the lid!
    5. Remove from heat and let sit for 4 to 5 hours at room temperature. When it's time to serve, remove the lid, sprinkle with the remaining breadcrumbs and grill for a few minutes until golden. Serve warm, not hot.

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