I’ll admit it. Shellfish like clams, oysters, and mussels intimidated me for a long time. I’m not exactly sure why. Blame it on my provincial upbringing in the landlocked upper midwestern United States that didn’t expose me to them until I was a young adult or the general ickiness I felt when looking at their naked slimy flesh. I’m not exactly sure, but I certainly never cooked them, never ordered them in restaurants, and generally wrinkled my nose in mild disgust when a dining companion did. Thankfully, I soon got over that fear and learned to love them all. It was the dinner club I formed with a group of fellow budding “foodies” in my mid-20s that changed my attitude toward these creatures of the sea, along with a host of other foods, and a desire to be a cool adventurous eater!
Now I adore them all, particularly mussels because they are cost effective, delicious, easy, and nutrient dense. And this recipe is dairy-free yet still packed with flavor, thanks to a combination of aromatic onions and garlic, some rich bone broth, olive oil, and salty prosciutto. Whether you eat paleo, are on a Whole30, or on a healing diet like the paleo autoimmune protocol (AIP) or the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD), this dish will work for you! People who need to avoid FODMAPs should simply omit the onion and garlic and maybe double up on the prosciutto to add flavor.
Best of all, you can get it on the table in about 15 minutes and it makes an elegant appetizer or main dish.
Mussels are nutrient dense
Food is meant to be enjoyed, but it is a double bonus when it is also good for you. Mussels are a high quality protein with an amino acid score of over 100. They are also a very good source of vitamin B12, iron (32% of the daily recommended intake in just one serving!), manganese, and selenium and a good source of vitamin C, thiamin, riboflavin, folate, phosphorus and zinc. All of this is fantastic for pretty much everyone, and even more so for those of us with inflammatory bowel diseases that tend to lead to be associated with deficiencies in many of these nutrients.
Mussels are easy to prepare
If your mussels are wild, you will need to debeard them. Not sure how to do that? Check out this tutorial from Serious Eats. Most mussels are farm raised and really easy to clean. Just dump them all in a colander and run them under water, rinsing off any grit.
Once they get in the pan, they cook in just a few minutes. And it is easy to tell that they are done, because they all pop open and start to turn a slightly golden color. You can use a saucepan, dutch oven, or even a skillet – as long as it as a cover. My vessel of choice is this everyday braising pan from Le Creuset. It is a significant investment, but I use it at least a couple times a week and have not regretted the purchase once.
Now, on to the recipe!
Steamed mussels with prosciutto and garlicPrint
Shared on Paleo AIP Recipe Roundtable.