Weeknight Cooking

Pizza Mussels for One

by:
December 16, 2019
Photo by Rocky Luten. Food Stylist: Anna Billingskog. Prop Stylist: Amanda Widis.
Author Notes

As pumpkin pie spice reminds me of pumpkin and poultry seasoning reminds me of poultry, so too does dried oregano remind me, somehow, of pizza. There's nothing like frying oregano in butter to scent the entire apartment with Perfume of Pizza (even whilst the tomatoes have yet to be added). With this in mind, I thought it'd be fun to transfer those flavors to another dish I love cooking in the winter: moules marinière, or sailor-style mussels.

Coined the “quintessential holiday dish in France” by Guardian writer Felicity Cloake, mussels are exactly what you want to eat when you need a duvet of brothy comfort and nothing else. In my lifetime I must’ve cooked these sable-tinted bivalves about a hundred different ways: classically with garlic, white wine, and parsley; Thai-inspired with red curry paste, coconut milk, and lemongrass; and, one of my favorite preparations, stewed in a tomatoey marinara sauce with linguine. Mussels are the perfect food not just around the holidays when it’s peak mussel season, but also on quiet, lazy weeknights when I want to cook myself something simple but comforting to eat.

Albeit these don’t have pizza's characteristic mozzarella (thankfully, as cheese would clump up in the broth), the base is an aromatic tangle of butter, tomato paste, and dried oregano. To deglaze the pan, I like to splash in some sherry or vermouth, whichever I have on hand; white wine would work here, too. A dollop of sour cream makes this dish creamy, and plays the part of “cheese” without all that clagginess. For me, a good book and a hunk of bread are all that’s needed to complete the meal—and to feel, somehow, less alone in December.

Even more, this entire recipe takes 30 minutes to cook from start to finish—and, if you're like me, about 30 seconds to eat. —Eric Kim

Test Kitchen Notes

Featured in: Home Alone for Christmas? You're Not the Only One. —The Editors

  • Prep time 10 minutes
  • Cook time 20 minutes
  • Serves 1
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onions
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 cup sherry or dry vermouth
  • 1 tablespoon sour cream
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound mussels, scrubbed and debearded
  • 1 humongous hunk of crusty bread
In This Recipe
Directions
  1. In a wide saucepan with a lid, melt the butter over medium heat and sauté the onions for a good 5 minutes. Add the tomato paste and oregano and caramelize for 2 to 3 minutes. Splash in the sherry/vermouth and let reduce until sticky, 1 minute. Whisk in the sour cream until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. Plop in the mussels. Stir well. Cover with a lid and let steam for 5 to 10 minutes, or until all the mussels have *just* opened up. (Be careful not to overcook these delicate bivalves.)
  3. Decant into a bowl and sop up juices with giant bread.

See Reviews

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Patrick Moynihan
    Patrick Moynihan
  • Lauren L.
    Lauren L.
  • ymj101390
    ymj101390
Review
Eric Kim is a senior editor at Food52, where his solo dining column, Table for One, runs Friday mornings. Formerly the managing editor at Food Network and a PhD candidate in literature at Columbia University, he writes about food, travel, and culture and lives in a tiny shoebox in Manhattan with his dog, Quentin "Q" Compson. His favorite writers are William Faulkner, John Steinbeck, and Ernest Hemingway, but his hero is Nigella Lawson. You can follow him on Twitter @ericjoonho.