Tastes of Summer (2003)

See Also
  Marinated Mussels

The Chef
Mario Batali of Otto

Serves 8

2 red bell peppers
2 green bell peppers
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
1 14-ounce can whole tomatoes, crushed by hand, with their juices
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
1 pinch hot-pepper flakes (optional)

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 heads of garlic, cut in half and broken up
1⁄4 cup dry white wine
2 pounds mussels, scrubbed and debearded
1⁄4 bunch fresh mint, cut into a chiffonade to yield 1⁄4 cup

Cooking Instructions
Brush peppers with oil and broil them until the skins are blackened on all sides. Place in a paper bag, close the top, and allow the peppers to steam for about 10 minutes.

When the peppers are cool enough to handle, peel and discard the skin, stems, and seeds. Cut each pepper into 1-inch squares. In a small sauté pan, heat the remaining olive oil over medium heat until hot but not smoking. Add the red onion and sliced garlic, and cook until they soften and start to color lightly, about 5 minutes.

Add the tomatoes, their juices, and the bay leaf. Stir well to combine.

Add the honey, red-wine vinegar, and pepper flakes, if desired. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes. Add the peppers and stir until combined. Set aside and allow to cool.

In a 4-quart pot with a lid, heat the oil over medium heat until hot but not smoking. Add the garlic and push through the oil to diffuse the taste, not allowing the garlic to change color. Add the wine and mussels, and cover the pot with the lid. Allow the mussels to cook until they have all steamed open, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat. If any of the mussels have not opened, discard them.

When the mussels are cool enough to handle, remove them from their shells and set them aside, reserving the liquid in a separate bowl. Allow the mussels to cool completely, then combine them with the mint and stir into the cooled pepper mixture until soupy but not wet (like a bowl of oatmeal). Serve at room temperature.