I don’t remember when it started, but at some point my dad and I set out on this unspoken quest to find the best mussels on a restaurant menu. I don’t think it will ever actually end, we’ll always look, but since the day we started (whenever that was) it’s been Biaggi’s. (OK, disclaimer time: I once traveled to Belgium and ate mussels and frites every night for a week and those were the best mussels I’ve ever had. I’m also quite fond of Flex in NY, but my dad wasn’t there for either of those experiences so it’s irrelevant, because Father’s Day.)
Biaggi’s was one of the first restaurants in Des Moines to offer a gluten free menu, so we ended up there quite a bit. My dad and I also have a fondness for a good margherita pizza so whenever we went to Biaggi’s we would order one pizza and one order of mussels to share.
Then gluten became less mysterious and we started venturing out to other restaurants and if they had mussels on the menu, you better believe we ordered them. But nothing ever tasted the same as those garlicky, lemony, herby mussels smothered in a white wine broth with chunks of tomato and onion. Maybe it was because other restaurants tried to add their own flair with bacon, sausage or chorizo and we just wanted those simple, but perfect Italian mussels.
And while the unspoken search will never stop (because, hello, we have to eat mussels as much as possible), I decided that if I could be home this Father’s Day I would make the GREATEST DAD EVER (step off) some of those perfect, garlicky, lemony, herby mussels (and clams—a nod to one of my mother’s best pasta dishes, more on that later) smothered in a white wine broth with chunks of tomato and onion. I guess photos will have to be the next best thing.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- ½ onion, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 large tomatoes, diced
- 1 cup dry white wine
- Juice of one lemon
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- Salt & pepper
- 1 pound clean, live mussels in shells (I buy frozen, precooked)
- 1 pound clean, live clams in shells (I buy frozen, precooked)
- Handful fresh, flat-leaf parsley
- Heat the olive oil in a large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic and saute until aromatic. Add the tomato.
- Add the wine, lemon, oregano, salt and pepper and oregano and bring to a simmer.
- Add the mussels and clams and simmer for 6–8 minutes, until the shells open. (Do not pry open and eat any shells that do not open on their own while cooking).
- Toss in the fresh parsley and serve with good, crusty bread or over pasta.
Happy Father’s Day to all those great dad and dad-like figures out there (not talking about dad bod)!