I guess it’s pretty apparent that I fell in love with Sicilian food this summer — after all, this is the fourth blog I’ve written about it. I just can’t stop gushing! The Sicilian approach to cooking is so similar to mine. It’s unfussy, from the heart, and all about the best quality ingredients.
I mentioned before an incredible dish I tasted at Apollonion Osteria da Carlo, and guess what — I finally had the chance to recreate it! Mussels and Clams Marinara with Toasted Almonds. I’m still blown away that such a simple addition — crushed, toasted almonds — has such a huge impact on an otherwise classic dish. I especially love this recipe because it couldn’t be easier to make. Everything goes into the same pot! Served with a some crusty bread and white wine, it’s a meal that somehow feels luxurious, even though it only took 20 minutes to cook.
I was so lucky to be joined by my friend and wine expert Jacques Azoulay! You may recognize him as he was Luann Delesepps’ boyfriend on several seasons of Bravo’s Real Housewives of New York! He is also the co-founder and CEO of Gabriella Fine Wines, a wine importer specializing in French, Portugese, and some Californian wines. He was the perfect lunch guest, bringing along two very different but very delicious wines to pair with the recipe. There was a lot of flirting (with flavors) going on, that’s for sure!
Here are the wines he recommends, and below is the recipe! Enjoy!
Domaine des Remparts, Bourgogne Cotes d’Auxerre Chardonnay, Burgundy, France 2011
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 medium onion, minced
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon dry oregano
- 3 medium tomatoes, seeded and diced
- Salt and pepper
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 2 pounds mussels, scrubbed and beards trimmed
- 2 pounds cockles (or smallest clams you can find), scrubbed
- ½ cup packed parsley, roughly chopped, plus more for garnish
- ½ cup packed basil, roughly chopped, plus more for garnish
- 1 cup toasted sliced almonds, crushed
- Crusty toasted bread, for serving
- In a large stockpot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic and onion and cook until translucent. Add red pepper flakes, oregano, and tomato paste. Stir to combine, then add the chopped tomatoes. Cook for 3-4 more minutes, until most of the tomato juice has evaporated. Season with salt and pepper. Add white wine, lemon zest, lemon juice, and bring up to a boil. Add mussels to the pot and cover. Cook for 8 more minutes, or until mussels have opened. Remove lid and allow liquid to reduce slightly before stirring in the parsley and basil. Scoop mussels and sauce onto a serving platter or bowl, discarding any unopened mussels. Top dish with the toasted almonds and more chopped basil and parsley. Serve with toasted or grilled bread.Serves 4 as main course, 6-8 as appetizer.