This dish falls squarely within that category of recipes that are so simple, every ingredient really matters. It's a quick dish too. You do have to pick the mussels from the shells after they're cooked and opened, but even that step only takes a few minutes. This came from last October's issue of Food and Wine, and the total time for making this is noted as 30 minutes. I think it might have been less than that. So, about those ingredients. The mussels, of course, need to be as fresh as can be. They get steamed in some white wine, and then that broth is strained and added back to the stew, which means you'll want to use a wine you really like. Then, a good amount of olive oil is used for cooking some garlic and chopped chiles to begin the stew. I was lucky to have just received some olive oil samples from Nudo which is the company known for its Adopt-An-Olive-Tree program in Italy. I received two gift sets. One included three different olive oils, and the other included basil oil and a container with seeds for growing your own basil. I used the plain extra virgin olive oil for sauteeing the garlic and chiles, and I drizzled a little of the extra virgin olive oil with chilies over the stew for serving.
The cooking time is so short, you definitely want to have everything prepped and ready before you start. I let the mussels sit in a big bowl of water with a little flour while I minced the garlic and chopped the chiles. The mussels were rinsed and drained and checked to be sure none were open. Then, they went into a big skillet with white wine and cooked until opened which was about three minutes. The mussels were removed to a plate, and the wine was strained into a bowl and reserved. The mussels were picked from the shells, and the shells were discarded. Next, extra virgin olive oil was warmed in the skillet, and the garlic and finely chopped chiles were sauteed. Rinsed and drained white beans were added followed by the reserved wine. That was brought to a boil and seasoned. Last, the mussels were added with some chopped homegrown parsley.
This is perfect on a cool, fall day, but for a stew, this one isn't too heavy. A thick slice of bread or two is a good accompaniment, and the drizzle of extra virgin olive oil with chilies was a fitting garnish. For such a simple stew, the flavors were anything but after starting with great ingredients.