I'm imagining at the title of this recipe a lot of parents getting weirded out. I am perfectly serious. This is a toddler friendly mussel recipe.
I'd been mulling over cooking mussels for my son for a while, after all, they fit into what I consider to be a good food to eat; delicious, cheap, easy, quick and full of lovely stuff.
Broccoli and Mussel pasta - serves 1 adult and 1 toddler, not recommended for children under 1 year
I small onion, finely chopped (or half of a large onion)
1 clove of garlic finely chopped
200g, approx 7oz live mussels (see below for preparation techniques)
2 tbsp apple juice
100g, approx 4oz pasta
3 florets of broccoli, chopped into halves or quarters
1 tsp chopped fresh parsley
1 tbsp double (heavy) cream
A small knob of unsalted butter
To prepare mussels scrape off the beards (hairy bits) and any barnacles. If they are open, give them a sharp tap. If they don't close then throw them away. (I did this preparation step before going to a mum and tots group storing them in the fridge in a bag.)
When you're ready to cook, put the pasta on to boil. 5-6 minutes before the end of the cooking time add the broccoli.
In the meantime, heat a saucepan and saute the onion in the butter until starting to soften. Add in the garlic and stir for a few seconds. Add the apple juice and then the mussels. Put on a lid and heat over a medium to high heat for 3-4 minutes. Take off the lid and discard any which haven't opened. You want to keep the liquid in the pan though as that's full of flavour.
Take the mussel meat out of the shells (unless serving to adults where you could leave a few in, the photograph above was my portion). Check the remaining liquid in the pan for grit. If there is any, you may need to sieve it or pour it out discarding the last tsp (there wasn't with mine). Add some cream to the liquid to make the sauce and heat through adding in the mussel meat; switch off as soon as it starts to bubble. Add in the parsley.
Add the pasta and broccoli into the sauce, stir and serve as soon as it's cool enough for your child.
Not only did my son love the mussels, he stole half of mine and asked for more!
Making this got me thinking, what does "Mamacook" stand for? What do I stand for? Well Mamacook is the kind of food I like to (and do) feed my son and myself. Generally this is low in refined sugars, quick, easy and full of flavour. I don't think though that food for kids should always be boring. When I made this pasta dish I had no idea if my son would accept it. I figured if he didn't want the mussels, he would probably eat the pasta, so I gave it a shot. The mussels cost me 81p, if the worst came to the worst, he would have had some bread and I would have eaten the mussels!
So, if I can encourage one thing, even if you're not in the mood to cook mussels for your toddler; why not just be a little bit brave and cook something different tomorrow for your child, just to try it, what's the worst that could happen?
I've linked this up here and here!