Steamed Mussels with Pesto and Tomatoes
- 2 cups Basil leaves (from one 2-ounce bunch)
Soak your fresh mussels in fresh water for about 10 minutes. This will allow the mussels to filter water and expel sand. Fresh mussels have what is commonly known as a "beard", while frozen will not. To debeard, hold the mussel in one hand and cover the other hand with a dry towel. Using the towel, grasp the beard and yank towards the hinge end of the mussel. Be sure to NOT pullthe beard out towards the opening end of the mussel, as this can tear the mussel and kill it. Remove the mussels from the water by hand, rather than using a strainer or pouring the water out. This ensures the filtered sand stays at the bottom of the pot. Place mussels in a bowl of clean, cold water. Use a firm brush to remove additional sand, barnacles, or other debris. Rinse the mussels under cool tap water, dry with a towel, and set aside.
In a food processor, combine the basil, pecans and whole garlic clove and pulse until fine. Add the Parmesan and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and process until smooth. Transfer the pesto to a medium bowl and add the butter. Stir in the tomatoes and season with salt and pepper.
In a very large, deep skillet or large soup pot, heat the remaining 1/4 cup of olive oil until simmering. Add the shallots and sliced garlic and cook over high heat, stirring until lightly golden - about 4 minutes. Add the white wine, heavy cream and a generous pinch of salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Add the mussels and stir for 1 minute. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until all of the mussels have opened - about 6 minutes. Add the pesto and tomatoes and stir until the butter is thoroughly melted and the mussels are evenly coated. Transfer the mussels and broth to bowls and serve with crusty bread.