Tuesday Fancy Mussels

Jazz up any ol’ Tuesday with a 15-minute pot of shellfish.

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By Tanya Sichynsky

Howdy, I’m Tanya, a New York Times Cooking editor and Emily’s gracious understudy this week. You should know that there are a few hills I’d die on: The “Star Wars” prequels weren’t as bad as everyone said they were, the best s’mores are deeply charred and a little salty, and we should all be making weeknight mussels.

They may seem luxurious, but mussels are among the most budget-friendly seafood options out there (a 2-pound bag at a national grocery retailer will run you less than $9, and they’re often on sale). They are incredibly sustainable, and cooking them requires minimal time — or skill.

Recently, I hosted a small dinner party and prepared a three-ingredient whipped ricotta, a few deceptively simple salads and a one-bowl dessert ahead of everyone’s arrival. I didn’t bother getting the main event — mussels! — onto the stove until everyone had showed up. Once I placed a large, shallow serving bowl brimming with aromatic mussels on the table, my guests were thrilled, if not a little confused. I was in the kitchen for minutes! It was a Tuesday!

You, too, can jazz up any ol’ evening with a restaurant-worthy meal in no more than 15 minutes: Heat some garlic or shallots (or both!) in a bit of butter and olive oil, toss in your mussels, pour over white wine or broth, cover and steam until the shells open, and top with whatever fresh herbs you’ve got.

In that spirit, below are a few recipes that will have you extolling the virtues of The Fancy Weeknight Meal.

1. Steamed Mussels With Garlic and Parsley

If you’ve never cooked mussels at home and prefer a bit more guidance, start by rinsing and debearding them (simply rip off or use a knife to remove the fuzzy tendril you see at the hinge of the mussel) as necessary, then follow this substitution-friendly recipe from David Tanis. Don’t be alarmed by the lack of salt: When the mussels yawn open, they release their briny liquid into the pot, seasoning the wine in the process. Transfer the cooked shellfish to a serving bowl, then taste the broth and add a little salt if necessary.

View this recipe.

2. Sheet-Pan Gnocchi With Mushrooms and Spinach

Here, Ali Slagle transforms a handful of pantry staples and produce into a savory meal fit for a steakhouse. Crisping gnocchi, either by pan-frying or roasting, is revelatory, and once you start, you may not be able to stop. You could, of course, serve this alongside a steak, but it may very well outshine even the best cuts of meat, so consider enjoying on its own.

View this recipe.

3. Summery Greens and Beans With Toasted Crumbs

While a traditional cassoulet requires a lot of your very precious time, this gorgeous tableau of seasonal vegetables gently braised in olive oil, loosely inspired by the French classic, will not. Rick Martinez finishes his dish with a showering of toasted bread crumbs, which feels rustic and elegant all at once.

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4. Honey-Glazed Chicken and Shallots

If the rooftop of my apartment building were accessible to tenants, I’d shout to all of Brooklyn about this Yewande Komolafe recipe. She builds a remarkably complex sauce for chicken with little more than honey, lime, garlic, chile and schmaltz. “This tastes like bistro chicken!” I’d yell.

View this recipe.

5. Linguine With Lemon Sauce

This five-ingredient pasta from Pierre Franey is lush yet light, with fresh lemon zest and juice cutting the silky fat of butter and heavy cream for a subtle and balanced flavor. Eat it as is, or treat it as a template: Serve it with grilled salmon, sprinkle in some blanched green peas or toast roughly chopped hazelnuts in the butter.

View this recipe.

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