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Mussels with Olio Nuovo

Mussels with Olio Nuovo

Olio Nuovo, fresh from the mill, is a seasonal treasure. Unfiltered and aromatic, it is at the peak of its flavor and texture for a moment in time. The unfiltered particles eventually settle and if not properly stored, the oil changes and can become rancid. That is a sad result for you and the oil so, use the oil now when it is fresh. This oil is a celebration. My favorite analogy is to compare it to a perfectly ripe peach – don’t save it, savor it. We only get so many opportunities – right?

Winter seafood offers some glorious opportunities to savor that fresh oil. Here in Northern California, Dungeness Crab is a holiday tradition. Olio Nuovo and a squeeze of Meyer lemon on fresh crab celebrates bright fresh flavors. Try it as a change of pace from tartar sauce or butter. Our local soles are delicious with that same squeeze and drizzle.

Mussels are a favorite shellfish for me and I am fortunate that I can drive out to the coast and buy them at Hog Island where they have been pulled right out of the Tomales Bay water. Mussels don’t forgive storage very well and it is imperative that they are perfectly fresh.

A recent trip yielded these beauties!

Rinse the mussels and pull off the “beards.” Mussels anchor themselves while they are growing with a fibrous cord that you will need to remove before cooking. It will be apparent and it’s easy to pull off.

A simple preparation, pictured above, is to saute shallots in a little of the olive oil, just until they soften. Add lemon juice, Meyer or other, then more of the Olio Nuovo. Add the mussels to the pan, cover, and steam until they open. Keep an eye on them, they get tough if you let them cook too long. Discard any that do not open. Serve with more of the Olio Nuovo to pour over the top and pass the sourdough to dip into the goodness.

Pour yourself a glass of McEvoy Ranch Rosebud Rosé – now you’re on holiday.

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