A touch of orange blossom water, a fragrant extract that is often used in Middle Eastern pastries, adds a floral note to the leeks and tarragon in this light mussel salad on toast.
Slideshow: More Bruschetta and Crostini Recipes
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
4 garlic cloves, crushed
1 Fresno chile—halved, seeded and thinly sliced
3 thyme sprigs
2 oregano sprigs
2 strips of lemon zest
1 bay leaf
2 1/2 pounds mussels, debearded
4 large leeks, light green and white parts only, halved lengthwise and sliced
1/4 inch thick
2 1/2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon orange blossom water (optional)
1/2 cup tarragon leaves
Three 1-inch-thick slices of sourdough bread cut from a large round loaf
5 ounces watercress leaves and small stems (1 cup)
How to Make It
In a medium saucepan, heat 1/4 cup of the olive oil. Add 3 of the garlic cloves and the chile and cook over moderately high heat, stirring frequently, until beginning to brown, 1 minute. Add the thyme, oregano, lemon zest strips and bay leaf and cook for 30 seconds.
Stir in the mussels and 1/3 cup of water and season with salt and pepper. Cover and cook, shaking the pot occasionally, until the mussels open, 3 to 5 minutes. Discard any that do not open. Drain the mussels in a colander set over a heatproof bowl. Remove the mussels from the shells and add to the bowl with the reserved cooking liquid. Wipe out the saucepan.
Heat 3 tablespoons of the olive oil in the saucepan. Add the leeks and a generous pinch each of salt and pepper and cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, 8 minutes. Add the leeks to the mussels. Stir in the vinegar, orange blossom water, if using, and tarragon and season with salt and pepper.
Light a grill or preheat a grill pan. Brush the bread with the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil and grill over moderately high heat, turning once, until lightly charred, 5 minutes. Rub the grilled bread with the remaining garlic clove and cut each slice in half on the diagonal.
Arrange the grilled bread on a platter and top with the mussel-and-leek salad. Garnish with the watercress, drizzle with olive oil and serve immediately.
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