By Samantha Schwalm
In the heat of summer, we find ourselves looking for meals that can be made quickly, and be prepared outside, on a grill, or a burner, while socializing (with a cold glass of Rosé of course) instead of being in the kitchen. Often paired with a simple meat and cheese tray, steaming mussels and clams is very popular,and is one of my husband and son’s favorite things. Surprising to many, is how easy these dishes are to prepare. After a light scrubbing in the sink to remove any external mud or debris, the key to having grit free mussels or clams is to soak them for one to two hours in ice water, with 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar. While the mussels are soaking, you can easily prepare your other ingredients.
If you are doing steam clams, simply drop them in a pot with a couple inches of steaming water and when the majority are open, take them out, and place on a large tray or serving dish. (Discard any which do not open, there are always some in the batch). For final serving preparation, I recommend simply heating some butter and adding a little chopped parsley which can be spooned on the mussels or placed in individual ramekins for dipping.
For amazing mussels, prepare the following ingredients: Half a diced yellow onion, 1 cup andouille sausage, one 8oz can of diced tomatoes, and 1/4 cup of red wine. Initially, place 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a pot with a lid, immediately add the onions and sausage. Sauté until onions are translucent and sausage is browned. Next pour in 1/4 of red wine, which will deglaze anything which has cooked onto the bottom of the pot. Finally, add the tomatoes and mussels. Turn the pot down to medium and cook with the lid on for 10 minutes. Once all of the mussels have opened, pour them into a serving platter and serve with a crusty warm bread for dipping.
A great addition to round out the outdoor meal is a simple salad of arugula, sliced peaches, basil, Burrata, and balsamic reduction. Visit your local farmers market for as many of these ingredients as possible!