Tuesday 30 June 2015

Mussels au gratin

Mussels au gratin

Browned, crusty topping of bread and cheese, with or without butter and egg served in a shallow dish is what au gratin stood for. It is such a 60's term; but still much enjoyed by many of us when served in restaurants all over the world particularly those catering to the French Cuisine. Here I share with you a dish that I recall eating in Paris in a Belgian restaurant!! The most delicious ''pizza'' au gratin - without a base of bread. Instead they had cooked mussels off the shell covered with a pizza sauce, cheese et al. Broiled and baked to bubble and brown the dish it was served with fries and a super crusty bread to mop up the sauce. It was rather messy to eat, yet a delicious experience as I remember. 

It can be a bit of prep work but should be well worth the effort  specially if you enjoy  eating mussels and  serving show stoppers at your table.

Tips are there to save time and effort as always, the choice is only yours.


1 kg/2.2 lb fresh mussels, washed and left to drain in a collander

3 tbsp olive oil
1 clove of garlic
pinch of red chilli flakes
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup liquid. Broth or white wine

The Tomato Sauce,

Cook together in a pan over the stove top. Bring it to a boil, cover, lower the heat and simmer for 1 hour.

500 gm/1 lb fresh tomatoes, skinned finely chopped

8 leaves of torn fresh Basil 
3 tsp brown sugar
3 freshly grated garlic cloves 
1 tsp salt
1 each of red,yellow and orange bell peppers, finely chopped
3 tbsp olive oil
1/ 2 cup browned onions finely diced
dash of Ancho chillie powder
dash of dried herbs
dash of tabasco

The Gratin

Mix together in a bowl to sprinkle all over

1 cup bread crumbs like Panko

1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
3 tbsp finely chopped parsley
dash of salt
drop of olive oil


Use a can of tomatoes with basil to start off with.
Use already roasted peppers peeled and ready in a jar. Use the same coloured peppers if you wish to finish off the jar.
This quantity of tomato sauce is far too much for this quantity of mussels. You may either prepare half or freeze the remaining.

If you wish use a store bought pizza sauce and add the peppers and make it your own.

Add your favourite seasonal fresh herbs, thyme and oregano go well in a tomato sauce.

Your favourite cheese will work instead of Parmesan, use one that melts well like Gruyere or good cheddar.

Make your own breadcrumbs with left over bread or buy a box of Panko.

Fill the plate up with your mussels and keep the tomato sauce slightly wet rather than thicker to mop it with bread.

Serve a warm crusty bed to enjoy with all of this, perhaps a garlic bread. Cheese bread also makes a good alternate.

If you prefer to keep it with lots of tomato sauce you can serve it with bread too.

Mix of cheese panko and fresh herbs, tomato sauce, cooked mussels in half shell, warm crusty bread to tear and share, final bites of  Mussels au gratin to enjoy!

For more delicious recipes from Niloufer's Kitchen: French Bistro

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Photo courtesy
Tanya Vakil Fernandes

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