This recipe is brought to us by author, journalist, and Mediterranean food expert Anissa Helou
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon pine nuts
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup short-grained rice, such as Spanish Calasparra or paella, soaked in warm water
- 1 tablespoon raisins
- 1 1/2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1/4 teaspoon sweet paprika
- 1 pinch of cayenne pepper
- 1 pinch of ground cloves
- 1 tablespoon fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
- 1 tablespoon fresh dill, chopped
- Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
- 25 large mussels, scrubbed and debearded
- 2 lemons, cut into wedges
In a medium saucepan, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add pine nuts and onions, and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly golden. Drain rice and stir into the saucepan. Add raisins, tomato paste, cinnamon, allspice, paprika, cayenne, cloves, parsley, and dill. Season with salt and pepper. Add enough water to just cover, about 1 cup. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, and simmer, covered, until the water is absorbed and the rice is just done, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove the saucepan from the heat, wrap the lid with a kitchen towel, and place on the saucepan. Let cool.
To prepare the mussels, place 1 mussel on a kitchen towel on work surface. Insert the tip of a small knife between the shells at the nerve end of the slanted bottom. Slide the knife downward and all around the shell until you cut into the muscle. The mussel will open easily, with the two halves remaining attached. Repeat process with remaining mussels. Be sure not to rush this part of the preparation or you will either break the shells or hurt yourself with the knife.
Stir the rice mixture with a fork. Fill each mussel with a teaspoon or more or rice, depending on how large they are. Close the mussels well. If the mussels do not close, tie with a small piece of kitchen twine to keep them closed. Wipe away any rice grains sticking out, and arrange in 2 or 3 layers in the top part of a steamer. Weigh down the filled mussels with a plate, and steam for 10 to 20 minutes. Remove the steamer section, and let the mussels cool. Serve at room temperature with lemon wedges.