Nduja Mussels with Bruschetta

Nduja is a fearsomely hot, spreadable pork and roasted red pepper paste. Originally from Calabria and once peasant food, its versatility, low cost and deliciousness has caught on, now at Waitrose and M&S. Think of it in the same category as harissa and chorizo, something to liven up all kinds of foods. Last night a spoonful transformed baked beans on toast with poached eggs and a goodly dollop stirred into moules mariniare at the start of cooking is a new favourite. The thick, spicy, terracotta-coloured paste gives the juices a rich, depth of flavour that complements the salty, tender mussels. It is rich and filling and good with garlicky bruschetta served balanced on top of the bowl at Vinoteca in Chiswick.

Serves 2
Prep: 20 min
Cook: 20 min

900g live mussels
1 tbsp olive oil
3 shallots
1 garlic clove
small glass white wine
1 dsp nduja
25g coriander
2 thick slices sourdough or similar
1 garlic cloves
best olive oil

Wash the mussels in several changes of water, discarding cracked or opened ones. Pull out the beards. Drain in a colander. Halve, peel and finely chop the shallots and garlic. Stir both into hot olive oil in a spacious, lidded pan. Adjust the heat to cook gently, stirring often, add the wine and simmer for a couple of minutes before stirring in the nduja. Add drained mussels and half the chopped coriander. Increase the heat, stir with a long handled wooden spoon, cover and cook for 5 minutes, shaking the pan vigorously or quickly stirring again to redistribute the mussels. Cook for a few more minutes until all the mussels open. Tip into a bowl, add remaining coriander, stir and serve in shallow bowls with garlicky bruschetta. To make the bruschetta, toast the bread – ideally oiled first and on a griddle, like in the picture – rub with garlic and splash with your best olive oil. Yum yum.