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Vital Choice at Home: Grilled Mussels with Fresh Tomato


Welcome to Vital Choice at Home!

This series features me, Michelle – a writer and soccer mom from the Rocky Mountains – my husband and two kids, some beautiful Vital Choice seafood and lots of regular home cooking.

(Click here to learn more about me, below.)

I want to feature the products and preparations you're curious about.

Have a suggestion? Question? Recipe you want me to test?

Email me and help to shape this series.



Summer is in full swing here, which means two things: We have an overabundance of organic produce to use, and we do not want to heat up the kitchen cooking!

So this week we experimented with Frozen Pacific Blue Mussels … on the grill!

This is a great basic recipe for whatever seasonal produce and herbs you have on hand. Read about what we made, then customize to your heart's (and palate's) content.

From the freezer straight to the grill
I've cooked with Vital Choice Frozen Pacific Blue Mussels once before, the first time I experimented with a simple Steamed Mussels recipe.  
The absolute beauty of the frozen mussels is that, after being cleaned to sand-free perfection and vacuum-packed, the mussels are immersed in 175°F water for 13 minutes.

This simple process pasteurizes and partially cooks the mussels without impacting the flavor or quality, making them very easy to pull from the shell.

The other wonderful benefit of this process is that the mussels can go directly from the freezer to the stove (or grill in this case) without thawing.

So, if you keep a pound or two of Vital Choice frozen mussels in the freezer, you can have freshly grilled perfection in about 20 minutes, prep and cook time included!

While you can rest the mussels in their shells directly on the grate, I didn't want to risk losing any to the grill, so I chose to cook them in a grill basket.

You'll find an abundance of affordable grill basket choices online and in stores – I chose one with a wide, square base (for future fish fillets) and an easy-to-clean nonstick surface.

I preheated the basket for about five minutes on high heat, and then grilled the mussels with several lemon halves for about 8 minutes.

Most of the mussels were open after four minutes – simply leave them on the grill longer if you want a smokier flavor, or take them off as soon as they open (and you can safely eat any that don't open due to the pasteurization process).

I removed them from the grill to a serving bowl and topped them with juice from the grilled lemons. Without any other adornments, they were already wonderful – you could easily serve them just like this.

Pick your summer flavors
However, I had some summer goodies to make use of, so I topped my grilled mussels with seeded and diced fresh organic tomatoes and some minced Italian parsley.

(Quick tip: The easiest way to seed your tomatoes is to cut them along their "equator,” which reveals pockets of seeds in each half that you can pop out with your fingers).

Here's where you should get creative – these would be wonderful with any number of fresh vegetables and fresh herbs.

We really loved the contrast of the smoky, briny flavor of the mussels and the bright bite of the tomatoes and the clean freshness of the parsley. If I make this again, I'll use basil in lieu of parsley to finish.

Finish your mussels with a quick grill-top broth
If you want a flavorful broth to cover your mussels (which I did!), it's simple to create one directly on the grill.

My grill happens to have a small side burner, which I used to make our broth.

However, you could also place a small saucepan directly on the grill as well.

I went classic with my broth, because I wanted it to merely enhance the brightness of the tomatoes and herbs.

First, I sautéed a shallot and a bit of white onion in some butter, then added about a cup of white wine (plus salt and pepper).

I left the broth to simmer and reduce while the mussels grilled – the timing was about perfect, and once the mussels came off the grill I poured over our fragrant broth before adding in veggies and herbs.

The final touch – we grilled a few slices of organic whole wheat bread with a touch of oil on the grates. They crisped up beautifully and were delicious dipped in the briny, fragrant broth and topped with some chopped tomatoes.

Overall, I would call this meal perfect!

If you're going for quicker and easier, you can absolutely skip the broth step and serve the mussels straight from the grill.

Either way, you have a delicious, summery dish, ideal for dining al fresco!

What other Vital Choice seafood have you had success with on the grill? With a few more hot months ahead of us, I'm looking for more great ideas!

Please send me a note and let me know what has worked well and I'll give it a try!

My rating: 4 out of 4 stars
 

A Note from Michelle
Like you, I have a passion for beautiful-yet-healthy food that's easy to prepare.

While I do love making the occasional "fancy” dinner, most of the time I'm short on time and have a house full of hungry people who want to eat NOW.

I'm not a professional chef – I'm just a busy mom who loves to cook and who's focused on that intersection of healthy and delicious.

I want this series to feature the products and preparations you're curious about.

Have a suggestion? Question? Recipe you want me to test?

Email me and help to shape this series.

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