Like most people right now we’ve been cooking (and eating) a hell of a lot more than we usually do and this tray bake of mussels with potatoes and rice is one of the best things we’ve had during the last few months. There’s something about the simplicity of the flavours that makes it just so so delicious. I saw this recipe on Silvia Colloca’s television programme Cook Like an Italian and I must have made it at least 3 times now. I made one change from the original and that was to briefly cook the mussels first to open them – Sylvia shucks them raw but I found this quite time consuming. This is one you really have to try if you love mussels.
Ingredients – Serves 4 Adapted from Silvia Colloca
100 ml extra-virgin olive oil
1 kg mussels, scrubbed and de-bearded
1-2 large French shallots, thinly sliced
500g potatoes, peeled and cut into 5 mm-thick slices (I used Desiree)
Sea salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
350g cherry tomatoes, halved (I like to plunge them in hot water for a minute and remove their skins)
200g arborio rice, well washed in cold water
40g freshly grated pecorino
Small handful parsley leaves, coarsely chopped
Preheat the oven to 220°C. Lightly grease a large, deep baking dish with olive oil (I use a 26 cm long, 7 cm deep dish that is perfect).
Place a large pan with a lid over high heat and when hot add the drained mussels and put the lid on straight away. Shake the pan a little and leave for 30 seconds. Remove the lid and take the mussels out as soon as they start to open. Place the mussels in a bowl and remove and discard one half of the shell making sure to catch any juices.
Place half the sliced shallots on the bottom of the dish, then cover with a layer of potatoes. Season with salt and drizzle with a few tablespoons of olive oil. Top with half the cherry tomatoes. Place the opened mussels in one layer (if they won’t fit in one layer, I place any extra mussels onto one shell so some shells with have 2 mussels on it), then scatter the rice and remaining shallots over the top. Sprinkle with half the pecorino, the reserved mussel juices, more olive oil, salt and pepper and some chopped parsley. Add a top layer of potatoes, then the rest of the cherry tomatoes, a drizzle more oil, salt and pepper to taste, then the remaining parsley and pecorino.
Pour enough water carefully down the sides of the dish (you don’t want to disturb the layers) to reach to just under the top layer. Bake for 20 minutes, then reduce the heat to 200°C and bake for another 35 minutes. At the very end turn on the grill and cook for 2-3 minutes or until the top is golden and crunchy. Serve at the table in the dish.