Friday, July 29, 2011

Stuffed Mussels and Gratineed Scallops

So far you've heard about the rugged, mountainous part of Abruzzo where I spent part of my vacation. But I also headed further East toward the Adriatic Sea to spend time with my husband's relatives, including some who live in Vasto Marina, a seaside resort town. One of the unique features of this part of the coastline are the wooden trabocchi you see along the shore. In some cases, these fishing contraptions are 200 years old, but they are constantly being tweaked to repair and replace the timbers  used to construct them - wood that is often taken from the robinia pseudoacacia trees that grow nearby, commonly known as black locust or false acacia.  Fishing nets are secured to long wooden arms and dropped into the sea to hopefully land a good catch.

 At one time, fishing from the trabocchi was the main source of income for many families. Now however, due to overfishing in deeper waters, the huts are used mainly on weekends by families who maintain them as a hobby.

There was no problem finding fish for dinner though, starting with this arrangement I ate as a first course. I can't even remember everything that was on the plate, but it included an octopus salad, a seafood terrine, anchovies and raw salmon.

Next on tap were some gratineed scallops.

And stuffed mussels.

Couldn't forget the fried shrimp and squid.

Followed by the piece de resistance - a San Pietro fish. I'm still not sure whether a San Pietro fish is a John Dory or a tilapia, so if someone with more knowledge knows, leave a comment at the end of this post. Whatever it is, it was delicious.

I'd like to thank Antonella, the wife of my husband's cousin Ottavio, who treated us to this wonderful seafood dinner. Sadly, Ottavio was out of town, but we were also joined by their three young sons, Francesco, Riccardo and Luca - as well as my son Michael, who met up with me for the middle part of my trip.

Back home in Princeton, I tried to recreate two of the dishes - the mussels and the scallops. They may not have tasted exactly the same, but they're pretty darn close and delicious in their own right - even if there aren't any trabocchi in Princeton and the only water in sight is the bird bath in the back yard.

Loosen the mussel from the shell and place a small dab of tomato sauce on one side, then top it with the mussel.

Place a small bit of the filling on top.

Stuffed Mussels

Printable Recipe Here

For two dozen mussels:

3/4 cup bread crumbs

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 egg

minced oregano

minced parsley

salt, pepper

white wine

tomato sauce

Place all the ingredients, except the tomato sauce, in a bowl and mix with a fork until blended. It should not be dry but it shouldn't be soppy wet either.

Bring wine to a boil in a shallow saucepan and place mussels in and cover. Cook only one or two minutes, or until the mussels are open. Remove mussels from the pan and let cool.

Once cool enough to handle, loosen the mussel from the shell. Place a spoonful of tomato sauce on one side of the shell, place the mussel on the sauce, then top with a spoonful of the filling and another dab of tomato sauce. Cover with the other side of the shell, place in an oiled casserole and bake at 425 degrees for about 15 minutes.

Scallops Gratinee

Use the same filling ingredients as for the mussels, (it should give you enough topping for two small casseroles or scallop shells) but add 2 Tablespoons grated parmesan cheese. Omit the egg if desired. Lightly butter scallop shells or an oven-proof dish and place a couple of scallops inside. Top with the crumbs, then sprinkle on a bit of paprika and drizzle with a bit of olive oil. Bake at 425 for about 10 to 15 minutes or until browned.

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  1. What beautiful food! I really like those gratinée scollops.



  2. I order mussels almost every time I go out.....but I have never made them at home! Your gratineed version looks better than the original! Yum!

  3. Oh Linda you ate like a queen! Everything is making my mouth water... I love mussels and love your version, ( I agree with Stacey, yours looks better) I must try!!

  4. First I must recover from the major drool ...

    OK, San Pietro is John Dory

  5. Both are such simple yet wonderfully delicious tastes of the sea!

    It was nice to see your husband's relatives..those boys are so handsome and so it your son!

  6. It would be hard to top such wonderful seafood! You have prepared everything to perfection.

  7. Oh holy smokes have just brought some of my favorite foods to another level. I love mussels but stuffed? I will be trying these this weekend.

  8. One of the best partos of travelling is the wonderful food along the way. I think you did an excellent job in duplicationg the recipe.


  9. I love your post and blog so much!!!.))

    I need your help. I spend another survey but this time with another question.
    "Where do you prefer to shop? What is your favorite shopping center?"

  10. What a beautiful area of Italy; of course, is there one area of Italy that is not beautiful? I have always wanted to try my hand at stuffed mussels; the trouble is I am not that crazy about mussels! I will switch to clams and that will work fine.

  11. Lovely post!
    Loving your blog so much!


  12. We are all mussel and scallop lovers here....I make them often but never with the I want fact I want them now!
    Perhaps this week Linda!
    Your pics are wonderful! The food looks mouthwatering!

  13. I'm so enjoying your stories from Abruzzo and your recipe recreations. All of those plates look divine, and your recreations look spot on.

  14. I've had the other dishes but not the stuffed mussels... I'll have to give it a try. It sounds fab!

  15. I'm not a fan of mussels. BUT, you got my attention with scallops. I completely forgot that I have those same shell dishes! I have scallops in the deep freeze! I'm making these in the next few weeks, for sure. Loved your photos and all those fabulous dishes you enjoyed.

  16. I love seeing all this fresh seafood...I do the same when in Greece...get it while you can!

  17. Adoro tutti i frutti di mare e le tue foto sono splendide Linda!

  18. They look delicious! I will be making the mussels soon.

  19. We are major mussel lovers here too and your version of them stuffed looks wonderful! Yum! What a wonderful holiday you had.. I'm loving all your photos. Nice that your son could meet up with you too!

  20. I have never stuffed mussels - always have them with broth. (I'm so predictable) I will happily bring this to my dinner table - along with the gratineed scallops - another version of scallops I've never had. Your family is so beautiful - those shiny smiles - made me smile. That seafood platter is food for the gods.

  21. Both recipes are mouthwatering, Linda. I love the photos of your wonderful trip and the fantastic meals you enjoyed along the way. Thanks for sharing them.