This is a recipe that combines products of the sea and land to bring all the taste of Southern Italy to your table. Gratin of mussels creates a perfect balance between the salty taste of the Mediterranean sea and the citrusy hints of lemon to regale sweetness and acidity to a recipe that smacks of Italy!
Gratin of mussels represents one of the dishes that most effectively epitomizes Southern Italy's culinary tradition. It is generally believed that gratin of mussels used to be the simple fare of fishermen and their families.
This type of shellfish is to be found in great quantities on the rocky coasts of the Mediterranean Sea and was therefore a staple food of seafaring men and often eaten uncooked.
Less affluent families did not have many ingredients for cooking refined dishes so this recipe evolved from the addition of just a little stale bread and a few drops of lemon juice, and is now often featured on the menus of great Italian restaurants, looking out onto a blue and crystal clear sea.
Tasty and irresistible, gratin of mussels is extremely simple to prepare and, with just a few ingredients, you may enjoy the full flavour of a traditional Italian dish.
Clean any residual impurities from the outer surface of the shells and detach the inner beard. Eliminate the empty half of the shell and arrange the mussels in rows on an oven tray. Put the breadcrumbs, the extra virgin olive oil, the pressed garlic cloves, the cheese and a few drops of lemon juice into a bowl. Mix thoroughly, add pepper to taste followed by the chopped parsley.
Now, cover each mussel with a teaspoonful of the prepared mixture and pop into an oven preheated to 180°C for a few minutes, until the gratin topping has become crisp on the surface.
This simple dish of contemporary refinement may either be served as a starter or as a main course, even though it really comes into its own as a luxurious finger food.