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Baked Mussels, Potatoes and
Zucchini (Tièdda)
Food & Wine Archives

 “This dish gets its name from the vessel in which it's cooked. A tièdda, or tiella
or teglia, is a round earthenware baking dish that is deep enough for layering
a number of ingredients. The one constant in the dish is potatoes; for best
results, use waxy red-skinned potatoes or semi-waxy Yellow Finns but not
starchy baking potatoes like Idahos.

"At Trattoria Casareccia, a wonderful little home-style restaurant in Lecce, the owner, Concetta Cantoro, makes this tièdda with zucchini and mussels; others
might substitute salt cod for the mussels or add a layer of wild mushrooms. The
recipe may seem complex, but the mussels, tomato sauce and potatoes can be
prepared well ahead of time.”

 Servings: 4- 8

2 pounds medium mussels, scrubbed and debearded
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 medium onions, halved lengthwise and
thinly sliced crosswise
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
5 large plum tomatoes, peeled, seeded and sliced
1 pound waxy potatoes, peeled and sliced 1/8 inch thick
2 small zucchini, thinly sliced
1 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/4 cup torn fresh basil leaves
1/2 teaspoon crumbled dried oregano
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 cup dry bread crumbs
3 tablespoons freshly grated
Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Place the mussels in a deep skillet
and add 3 tablespoons of water. Cook over moderately high heat, stir-
ring frequently. As the mussels just open, transfer them to a large platter
with a slotted spoon. (They will continue cooking later.) Strain the liquid
through a sieve lined with several layers of dampened cheesecloth and
reserve. (You should have about 1/4 cup of liquid.) Remove the mussels
from their shells.
2. Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large nonreactive skillet. Add
half of the sliced onions and all of the garlic and cook over low heat
until softened but not browned, about 7 minutes. Add the tomatoes,
raise the heat to moderate and cook until they have cooked down to
a thick sauce, about 10 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, bring a medium sauce-pan of water to a rolling boil. Add
the potato slices and cook until just tender, 7 to 10 minutes. Drain well.
4. Brush the bottom of a deep 2-quart ceramic baking dish with 1 table-
spoon of the olive oil. Spread one-third of the tomato sauce over the
bottom. Top with half of the remaining raw onions followed by half of
the mussels, zucchini slices and potatoes. Sprinkle with one half of the
parsley, basil, oregano, 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and salt and pepper.
Cover with another third of the tomato sauce and repeat the layering with
the remaining ingredients, ending with the tomato sauce. Sprinkle the
bread crumbs, grated cheese and the remaining olive oil over the top.

5. In a small bowl, combine the reserved mussel liquid with 1/4 cup of hot
water. Pour the liquid gently down the side of the baking dish to keep
the vegetables from sticking. Cover the dish with a double layer of
aluminum foil and bake for about 1 hour, or until the potatoes are
very tender; remove the foil during the last 15 minutes to brown
the top. Let cool slightly, then serve hot or at room temperature.

-- Nancy Harmon Jenkins

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