Home Cooking, the gift of nature.

Mussels...arguably the king of shellfish. Its often very difficult to walk by the fish shop in Orce village, especially on Fridays, owner Antonio has a long marble topped bench crammed full with all manner of seafood delights. At the far end though is a spot reserved for mussels where he piles kilos of them into a mini mountain, carefully discarding any that look like they won't make the grade.

"¿cuántos kilos" He always asked that as we usually buy a couple of kilos for ourselves or even double that if the rellies are over and a big seafood paella is on the cards. When these mussels are in season boy are they good...! Enormous tapas, hearing them clunk and rattle as Antonio shovels them into a bag immediately gets you thinking of parsley and white wine - or another favourite we recently discovered "mussels in Asturian cider" as well as summer salads drenched in extra virgin olive oil.

If you fancy something different to do with mussels but yet incredibly simple then why not try a mussel and serrano ham salad ~ or iberico ham if your in a more gourmet mood... Both work very well in this land and sea affair.

Ingredients: 

1kg Fresh mussels, cleaned
100g Serrano ham 
1 Baby lettuce
1 Tomato
2 Slices white bread, cut into squares
Cracked black pepper
Salt
White wine
Broadleaf parsley

Dressing:

1 Teaspoon cider vinegar
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Wine from the mussels

Method:

1. Place the mussels into a Spanish olla or cooking pot and steam in a splash of white wine for 5 – 6 minutes until all shells are open.

2. Remove the mussels from their shells and keep to one side, retain the wine mussel liquor and reduce over a high heat.

3. Mix 1 tablespoon of mussel liquor with the olive oil and cider vinegar, season with salt and pepper, mix well.

4. In a frying pan add a drop of olive oil, slice the ham into strips and fry.

5. When the ham is crispy, add a little more olive oil to the pan and fry the bread, turning regularly.

6. On a serving plate arrange the baby lettuce leaves with slices of tomato.

7. Toss the mussels, fried ham and bread and place on top of the salad.

8. Pour over the dressing and garnish with torn up parsley.

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Preparing food with heat or fire is an activity unique to humans, and scientists believe the advent of cooking played an important role in human evolution. Most anthropologists believe that cooking fires first developed around 250,000 years ago.

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