You can also make this salad with clams or cockles. The trick, which is what makes this salad outstanding, is to use the steaming liquid from the mussels to cook the beans. To turn this salad into a luxurious main course, add pieces of cooked lobster or crab or sections of octopus.
– 4 pounds small cultivated mussels.
– 2 shallots, peeled, minced.
– 1 cup dry white wine.
– 2 cups borlotti or cannellini beans, rinsed, soaked for 4 hours in cold water to cover, drained.
– Leaves from 1 bunch parsley, chopped very fine just before using.
– 3 tablespoons lemon juice.
– 8 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, or more or less to taste.
Step 1:Wash the mussels and drain in a colander.
Step 2:Simmer the shallots in white wine in a pot large enough to hold the mussels for 5 minutes over medium heat and add the mussels. Cover the pot and steam until the mussels open, about 8 minutes. Make sure the mussels have completely opened and have lodged in one shell or the other —they’re not clinging to both shells, which makes them tear when you remove them—before you take them off the heat. Take the mussels out of their shells and reserve, covered with plastic wrap, while you cook the beans. Discard the shells.
Step 3:Pour the mussel cooking liquid into a large measuring cup, leaving any sand or grit behind in the pot. Add enough water to the liquid to make atotal of 2 quarts, and use this liquid to cook the beans in a pot or pressure cooker, about 30 minutes in a pressure cooker, about 2 hours in a pot. Add water to the pot as needed if the liquid is running dry before the beans are cooked. Let cool.
Step 4:Toss the cooked beans with the mussels, parsley, lemon juice, and olive oil and season to taste with salt and pepper.