mussels puttanesca

may be mussels are much too often on our table. but how could i resist the allure of their gleaming shells at my fish monger, worse yet, seeing they were labeled wild, from the gulf of maine? and de-bearded? i was skeptic, but a quick search on my handy brought up:

"Johnny's blues, wild maine mussels".

hence mussels for dinner tonight. done up in stephanie's favorite sauce, a puttanesca of a varied kind. the sauce is mild by design so as not to overwhelm the delicate flavor of those new england mussels.

for the mussels: 
steam them quickly in a very little sake together with a chopped up stalk of lemon grass, shaking the kettle for even heat. undo them, drain and reserve their liquid through a very fine sieve and save their meat in olive oil until ready to combine with the sauce. 
for the puttanesca: 
reduce the content of a 28oz can san marzano tomatoes by half, after adding seven anchovy filets, thinly slivered peel of one orange, 3 tbsp of pesto, 3 tbsp of double tomato paste and the reserved liquid of the mussels.
add a few pitted oil-cured black olive halves together with the drained mussels just before serving. the sauce should be very tomato-y, very mild with a tang of orange. serve with crusty, garlic roasted crostini.

mangiare bene!