Mussels with tarragon and tomatoes

I both love and hate the fact that sometimes when you least expect it, you whip up something unexpectedly delicious. 

Like, really delicious. 

I love when this happens because, well, I love eating delicious food.  But I hate how easy it is to create such a beautiful dish on a slow Friday night in my sweatpants, and how that isn’t always the case when I’m entertaining or really trying to wow someone.  Even when I’m making something I’ve prepared a million times before, there is the possibility that something can go wrong.  I think when I entertain and there is more pressure of timing and presentation, and I’m not usually as relaxed as I was last Friday (maybe cooking in sweatpants is the key?).  In any event, this dinner unexpectedly and quite effortlessly took me by surprise.

I was also thrilled that this new favorite meal paired so well with my new favorite wine of the moment, Castell del Remei’s Blanc Planell 2009.  I am on a tear with Spanish whites, in search of something perpetually dry, but fruity or minerally and clean.  Although I enjoyed so many wines like this on our journey through Spain last summer and I used to associate Spanish whites with hot summer days, this wine perfectly cuts through hearty winter fare and beautifully elevated the sweet Maine mussels and aromatic broth.   

Mussels with Tarragon and Tomatoes                                                                           This generously served 2, but could be a starter for 4-5.  I think polenta is the way to go here, but you could definitely serve over pasta instead, or just as is with lots of crusty bread. 

2 lbs. mussels, cleaned and debearded (I soak them in cold water and a few tablespoons of flour for about 20 minutes to release some of their grit)

1 shallot, minced

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 28 oz. can diced tomatoes

1/3 c. dry white wine

heaping tablespoon marscapone cheese

1 tsp. chopped tarragon leaves

salt and pepper

In a hot Dutch oven or very large sauté pan with a lid, sweat the shallot for a few minutes until soft.  Add the minced garlic and sweat for another minute, adding the wine and reducing for a couple of minutes.  Add the mussels, salt, pepper, tomatoes, and all their juices.  Cover the pan and cook until the mussels open, stirring occasionally.  Once the mussels are open, turn down the heat and add the tarragon and melt in the marscapone.  Adjust seasoning.  Serve hot.

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