Mussels with Horseradish, Grilled Bread and Aioli

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Mussels with Horseradish, Grilled Bread and Aioli
by Curtis DiFede
Simple Feast

Serves 4
1 hour 20 minutes total time
50 minutes active time

To say that I am partial to seafood is an understatement. I love the simple, clean flavors of the sea but certain ingredients make fish and shellfish even better. In this case, horseradish offers a dimension of heat to balance the flavors. I like to use the food processor to make the aioli but it can also be made by hand using a mortar and pestle.


½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
½ cup safflower oil or vegetable oil
1 large egg yolk
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 ½ teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 small garlic clove, peeled and pounded in a mortar

1 ½ gallons water
3 tablespoons fine sea salt
4 pounds mussels, debearded and scrubbed well
Extra-virgin olive oil
1 large fennel bulb, thinly sliced into 1/8-inch slices
1 medium leek, white and light green portion thinly sliced, 1/8-inch rings
4 shallots, sliced into 1/8-inch rings
1 large clove garlic, thinly sliced
1 ½ cups dry white wine
2 tablespoons grated fresh horseradish root
¼ cup unsalted butter
½ bunch flat-leaf parsley, coarsely chopped
½ bunch chives, thinly sliced

Grilled Bread
Eight ½-inch slices rustic Italian bread
Extra-virgin olive oil
Fine sea salt


To Make the Aioli

Combine the olive and safflower oils in a liquid measuring cup.

Put the egg yolk, lemon juice, and mustard in the bowl of the food processor and pulse to combine. With the food processor running, slowly add the oil, through the hole in the top, in a thin stream. Once all the oil is incorporated, stir in the mortared garlic and season with salt. Refrigerate.

To Soak and Cook the Mussels

Put the water and salt in a large bowl and whisk to dissolve the salt. Add the mussels and soak for about 30 minutes to remove any grit. 

Meanwhile, choose a stockpot or Dutch oven that will hold all of the mussels. Pour in a generous film of olive oil and heat over medium-high heat. Add the fennel, leek, shallots, and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until all are translucent, about 8 minutes. 

Pour in the wine and cook until reduced by half, about 4 minutes. 

Stir in the horseradish and then add the mussels, stirring to coat them in the vegetable mixture. Cover with the lid and let the mussels steam to open, 6 to 8 minutes.

To Grill the Bread

Meanwhile, heat a grill pan to medium-high heat. Brush both sides of the slices with olive oil, and season lightly with salt.  Grill the bread until crispy on both sides.

To Finish the Mussels and Serve

Remove the pot with the mussels from the heat and discard any that haven’t opened. Add the butter, parsley, and chives to the pot, and stir to coat the mussels. 

Put toast in the bottom of each serving bowl and spoon the mussels over the top. Top with a large dollop of aioli.

Food processor
Liquid measuring cup
Grill pan
Stockpot or Dutch oven
Slotted spoon or spider
Mortar and pestle

Pan Seared Salmon with Sweet Corn Tomato Relish


Pan Seared Salmon with Sweet Corn Tomato Relish
Dave Cruz

Serves 4
50 minutes total time
50 minutes active time

You’ll like the juxtaposition of the sweet and acidic flavors in the vinaigrette and relish, which enlivens the salmon. The vinaigrette can be used for other seafood, such as shrimp.



Honey Citrus Vinaigrette
1 lemon
1 orange
2 ½ teaspoons honey, preferably wildflower
¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon kosher salt

Sweet Corn and Cherry Tomato Relish
3 ears corn, preferably sweet yellow
1 lime
3 ½ tablespoons avocado oil
9 ounces cherry tomatoes, halved
1/3 cup thinly sliced red onion
Maldon salt

4 salmon fillets, (5 ounces each) preferably Wild King Salmon
Kosher salt
3 ½ tablespoons avocado oil
Cilantro leaves
Freshly ground black pepper
Maldon salt


For the Vinaigrette

Juice the lemon and orange into a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Cook until reduced by half, about 7 minutes Transfer to a high-powered blender and add the honey. Measure the oil into a liquid measuring cup. Slowly with the blender running on medium-low speed add half of the oil in a steady stream. Increase the speed to high and, still in a steady stream, add the remaining oil and the salt. Makes about 1 cup of honey citrus vinaigrette. The vinaigrette can be refrigerated for up to 1 week, but should be brought to room temperature and re-blended before using.

For the Relish

Shuck the corn and cut the kernels from cobs using a corn kerneler or knife. Transfer the corn and any liquid to a medium bowl. Scrape the cobs to extract any remaining liquid.

Using a rasp grater, zest the lime and then juice the lime.

Heat the avocado oil in a medium sauté pan over medium heat. Add the corn and cook, stirring often until the corn is cooked through, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the tomatoes and sliced onion. Season to taste with lime zest, lime juice and Maldon salt.

For the Salmon

Line a plate with paper towels.

Season each salmon filet with salt.

Heat a film of the avocado oil in a large sauté pan over high heat until wisps of smoke begin to appear. Test the oil by taking one of the fish fillets and gently (away from your body) drag it through a couple of inches of the oil. If the fish sticks at all, wait 30 to 40 seconds and try again in a different part of the pan. When the fish portion moves freely when dragged, gently release it in the oil, letting it fall back end to front end, away from your body. (This will keep any splatter away from you.) Add the remaining fillets in the same manner, lower the heat to medium to medium-low as needed, and cook until well browned, 3 to 5 minutes. Using a thin spatula, carefully flip the fillets over and cook for 1 to 2 minutes for medium rare, or longer as preferred. Transfer to the paper towels to drain.

To Serve

Using a slotted spoon, divide the relish among the plates, put a salmon fillet on top of each, and drizzle with the vinaigrette. Top with the cilantro leaves, and season with pepper and Maldon salt.

Citrus press (juicer)
1 cup liquid measuring cup
Corn kerneler
Rasp grater
Medium sauté pan
Large sauté pan
Thin spatula
Slotted spoon

Greek-Style Panzanella with Feta “Snow”

Panzanella Salad_Thumb
Greek-Style Panzanella with Feta Snow
by Susie Heller

Serves 4
1 hour total time
30 minutes active time

Panzanella salad ingredients can be varied seasonally, but when summer tomatoes are at their peak, this is the version I make. A Greek salad is elevated by adding croutons which have absorbed the flavorful juices of the tomatoes. The feta snow gives a new look to a classic salad.


1 loaf artisan bread, crusts removed
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 pounds assorted tomatoes\
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cucumber, peeled, seeds removed, diced
½ small red onion, cut into julienne
Large handful Kalamata olives, pitted, sliced
¼ cup capers
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar, or to taste
2 cloves garlic
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup coarsely chopped basil leaves
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh oregano
4 ounce block of feta cheese, frozen


Preheat the oven to 350˚F.

Tear the bread into irregular bite-size pieces, toss with a bit of olive oil and spread on a baking sheet. Bake for about 10 minutes, turning the bread halfway through cooking, until the bread is crisp and a rich golden brown.

Meanwhile, put a large strainer over a bowl. Cut any large tomatoes in half through the equator and gently squeeze the seeds and juice into the strainer. Using a silicone spatula press on the seeds to extract all the juices and discard the seeds. Cut small tomatoes in half or smaller pieces as appropriate. Put the tomatoes in the strainer and toss with the 1 teaspoon salt. Let sit for at least 20 minutes.

Put the tomatoes into a second large mixing bowl, reserving the juice. To the tomatoes, add the cucumber, red onion, olives and capers.

For the dressing: Whisk the vinegar and remaining olive oil into the tomato juice. Use a rasp grater to grate the garlic into the dressing. Taste, adjust the proportions of vinegar and oil as needed and season with salt and pepper.

About 30 minutes before serving. Toss the vegetables with the bread, dressing and herbs.

Spoon on serving plates and grate frozen feta cheese over the top.

Equipment Needed:
Baking sheet
Large strainer
Rasp grater