steamed mussels with lovage, wine, tomatoes, shallot


an extraordinary dish, also one of the simplest, and least expensive to make


I came across this recipe some time ago, and have enjoyed it a number of times since.  I found it in the New York Times, where it was described as adapted by Sara Dickerman from “The Herbal Kitchen,” by Jerry Traunfeld.  The biggest challenge for most home cooks may be locating the fresh lovage, but it’s worth it, wherever that hunt may take you.

It’s a brilliant formula, and extraordinarily delicious.

The easy part: There’s very little preparation necessary for any of the (few) ingredients, and everything goes into the pot at once, after which dinner is ready in little over 5 minutes.

  • two pounds of mussels purchased that day in the Union Square Greenmarket from Pura Vida Seafood, lightly-scrubbed and de-bearded where necessary, then combined in a large heavy enameled cast iron pot with two cups of Backyard Farms Maine ‘cocktail tomatoes’ from Whole Foods, halved, half of a cup of good white wine (a South African, specifically, Western Cape/Constantia, white, Klein Steenberg Sauvignon Blanc 2015 from our local shop, Phillippe Wines), a few tablespoons of chopped shallot from John D. Madura Farm, three tablespoons of rich ‘Kerrygold Pure Irish Butter‘, a generous amount of freshly-ground black pepper, and 2 or 3 tablespoons of coarsely-chopped lovage from Two Guys from Woodbridge, everything steamed over high heat for a few minutes, served in shallow bowls with a sprinkling of more chopped lovage, accompanied by an Eric Kayser ‘baguette monge’
  • the table wine was a Portuguese (Bairrada) white, FP Bical & Arinto Vinho Branco, a 2013, from Chelsea Wine Vault
  • the music was Mozart, ‘Le Nozze Di Figaro’, Nikolaus Harnoncourt conducting the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, with Dorothea Röschmann, Anna Netrebko, Ildebrando D’Arcangelo