Prior to lockdown, one of my Saturday rituals was having a lazy stroll into town and buying fresh mussels from my local fishmonger. They are one of my favourite seafoods and very cheap at a cost of about £4 for 1kg. The Hairy Dieters feature three mussel-based dishes across their seven healthy eating books (check out Fast Food and Make it Easy for the other recipes), but Mussels with Leeks and White Wine from their first book is the best, in my opinion.
Leeks and white wine are a fabulous combination, and adding the mussels to the bowls with the creamy sauce is just begging to be mopped up with a piece of crusty bread. If you’re watching your calories go easy on the bread though, if you can. And if you can’t, well, your belly is going to be very satisfied and that’s what food should be about.
I love to have these on Saturday afternoons, washed down with the rest of the white wine. Heaven.
Recipe: Mussels with Leeks and White Wine
Calories: 387 per portion (if serving 2); 252 per portion (if serving 3)
Book: Hairy Dieters – How to Love Food and Lose Weight
Prep time: Approx 30 minutes
Cooking time: Approx 15 minutes
- 1kg fresh live mussels
- 2 tsp sunflower oil
- 2 slender leeks (trimmed and cut into 1cm diagonal slices)
- 2 garlic cloves (peeled and finely sliced)
- 150ml white wine
- 4 tbsp half-fat crème fraiche
- Small handful flat-leaf parsley (leaves roughly chopped)
- 1 tsp cornflour
- 1 tbsp cold water
- 2 thick slices of crusty wholegrain bread
- Flaked sea salt
- Ground black pepper
Cost per portion: Approx £4.10 if serving 2; £2.73 if serving 3
Scrub the mussels really well and remove their stringy beards. Chuck out any mussels that are damaged in any way or that are open and don’t close when tapped on the side of the sink.
Heat the oil in a large non-stick frying pan or saute pan – you need something with a lid – over a low heat. Very gently fry the leeks and garlic for 5 minutes until softened but not coloured, stirring occasionally. There’s no need to cover the pan. Add a little water to the pan if the leeks start to stick before they are softened.
Pour over the white wine and stir in the crème fraiche and parsley. Add the mussels, cover the pan with a lid and cook for 3-4 minutes or until all of the mussels have steamed open, stirring once. Give the pan a good shake now and again. Mix the cornflour and water together to make a thin paste.
Remove the pan from the heat and tip the mussels and their liquor into a colander over a large bowl. Throw away any that haven’t opened, then divide the mussels between 2 warmed wide bowls.
Tip the mussel liquor back into the pan and stir in the cornflour paste. Bring to a simmer and cook for 1 minute, stirring until thickened. Add a bit more salt and pepper to taste and pour the sauce back over the mussels in the bowls.
Serve each bowl of mussels with a thick slice of crusty bread for mopping up the sauce.