Lydon's Mussel and Herb Salad with Croutons
- SERVINGS: 4
- 1/2 cup bottled clam juice
- 3 bay leaves
- 2 pounds small mussels, scrubbed and debearded
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon melted unsalted butter
- Four 1-inch-thick slices crusty sourdough bread
- 1 garlic clove, split lengthwise
- 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon Aleppo pepper or other mild red chile flakes
- 1 pint red cherry or grape tomatoes
- 1/4 cup coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 2 tablespoons minced chives
- 2 tablespoons small tarragon leaves
- 2 cups cleaned mâche (lamb's lettuce)
- 1/2 cup baby spinach leaves
- 1/2 cup small watercress sprigs
- Preheat the oven to 400°. In a large skillet, bring the clam juice to a boil with the bay leaves. Add the mussels, cover and cook over high heat until they open, about 2 minutes; discard any that remain closed. Shell the mussels and place in a bowl. Strain the cooking liquid over them and let cool.
- In a small bowl, combine the olive oil and butter and brush on both sides of the bread. Toast the bread on a baking sheet in the oven for about 10 minutes, or until golden brown and crisp. Rub the warm toast on both sides with the cut garlic clove. Cut the toast into 1-inch dice.
- In a small bowl, whisk the mayonnaise with 2 tablespoons of the mussel cooking liquid. Add the lemon juice, Aleppo pepper and a pinch of salt.
- Lift the mussels from the liquid with a slotted spoon and transfer them to a medium bowl. Add the tomatoes, parsley, chives and tarragon and toss. Add the croutons, mâche, spinach, watercress and the dressing and toss again. Mound the salad on 4 plates and serve.
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