A Case For Simplicity

Mussels with Angel hair pastaRight now, as is the case every year, we are gearing up for a busy wedding season. Part of this is spending quiet moments in the kitchen, trying out new things either because some technique or ingredient has piqued my interest, or because a wedding couple has requested something particular that I want to get just right. And it’s an easy thing sometimes to get into that room and get all caught up in technique or tradition or some multi-staged process and forget that, in many cases, food is at it’s very best when we keep things simple and beautiful. And when we reach carefully for the place that brings food to its most pure and essential: to being the best that it can be.

The dish illustrated here is such a good example. I prepared it for a small wedding about a year ago. And this is a dish so simple, it just about makes itself. In this case, the pasta is handmade, of course. But you could do this yourself at home with store bought pasta without much loss of flavor.

The technique here needs no explanation, really. A shallot, some garlic, some butter, some wine. Black pepper. Chopped parsley. Live mussels and a large pot with a lid. Perhaps five minutes until everyone is open.

The mussels are steamed, then removed so the sauce can be reduced. Some of that is tossed through perfectly cooked pasta. Which is then plated. More sauce. Carefully placed mussels. In this case it was the second course of a plated winter wedding dinner. At home, though, even after a busy day at work, add a baguette and maybe a salad and you’ve made a beautiful, nutritious and even elegant dinner for yourself or your family. And with almost no work at all!