Baked Mussels Cozze al Forno

Serves 4

500g (1 lb 2 oz) fresh mussels (about 12 per person)
1 garlic clove finely chopped
2 tbsp finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 tbsp dry breadcrumbs, or 25g (1 oz) fresh oil
1 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

This recipe is popular in many parts of Italy, and is very easy to prepare.  It can also be served as a main course: simply increase the quantity of mussels.  And because you are cooking with olive oil, the mussels can be eaten hot or cold.

Try and choose the biggest and freshest mussels, making sure that they are tightly closed and quite heavy.

Clean the mussels in a sink under running tap water. Throw away any that gape, and do not close when you tap them sharply, or any that float. Place the mussels in a lidded saucepan with about 150ml (5 fl oz) water, cover and bring to the boil. Shake the pan: the steam will open the mussels in a few minutes. (At this point throw away any that have not opened). Put aside to cool.

Preheat the oven to 220 C/425 F/Gas 7.

Next, take off the top half of each shell. Loosen the mussels and arrange the lower shells next to one another in a baking dish. Sprinkle them with the garlic and parsley mixed together, then with the breadcrumbs, and season with salt and pepper. Finally pour a thin trickle of olive oil over each mussel. Then place the dish in the preheated oven for about 10 minutes.

Serve hot or cold.

This recipe is from An Invitation to Italian Cooking