Whilst turning the pages of my new best book – the Tuscan Cookbook- my eyes were drawn to a grammatical change in what I had assumed to be a traditional preparation of moules marinières. Not only was the language out of place in the heart of Tuscany, but there was also the change from adjective to past participle in the description. As it turned out I was being introduced to moules marinées, a subtly different kettle of mussels to the traditional marinières. The accent changes from grave to acute whilst the serving temperature changes from hot to cold, which suits this particularly sunny month of May. In the Vendée we are lucky to have very good mussels which are known as “moules de bouchot” (more of which on my other blog www.simplyfed.wordpress.com ) but whose season does not begin until June. However, “moules à la corde” or “rope mussels” are available and in their juicy prime which suited my first preparation of this dish.
Clean and beard some fresh mussels. Put them in a lidded saucepan with some finely chopped shallots, some snipped parsley stalks and a good glass of white wine. Put the lid on and cook them on a lively fire for about 4 or 5 minutes. Make sure the mussels are all open and discard those that are not, although it is sometimes worth putting the closed ones back in the pot for another couple of minutes of cooking, just to see if they open. Let the mussels cool in a flat dish. Meanwhile make a good vinaigrette from olive oil, sherry vinegar (or whatever you prefer), a small shallot chopped fine and lots of roughly chopped parsley. The aim is to make a thick sauce. Pour this over the cooled mussels and leave in the fridge for a good couple of hours. They are delicious as an entrée or as something to accompany several chilled glasses of white wine.