MUSSELS IN SPICY TOMATO BACON CREAM DREAM

Ingredients

1 large baguette, cut into ½” thick rounds

¼-½ cup olive oil

4 pounds mussels, debearded

8 slices bacon

1 large onion, chopped

1 small fennel bulb, chopped (about 1 cup)

1 red bell pepper, chopped

6 cloves garlic, chopped

1 teaspoon Dish off the Block Ciao Bella Italian Spice Blend

1 ½ teaspoons red pepper flakes

½ cup spaghetti sauce

½ cup dry white wine

1 cup heavy cream

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

½ teaspoon salt

½ cup grated parmesan cheese

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped

Instructions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil.  Brush the baguette rounds on both sides with olive oil.  Bake the bread for 8 minutes until toasted on the outside and soft on the inside.  Set aside.

Soak the mussels in cold water and lightly scrub to remove any debris.

Cook the bacon in a large deep skillet until crisp.  Remove and chop.  Set aside.  Do not discard the bacon grease.

Add the onion, fennel, red pepper, and garlic to the pan drippings and cook over medium high heat, stirring frequently for 3-4 minutes until soft and fragrant.  Add the Italian seasoning and red pepper flakes to the pan and cook, stirring for 1 minute more, allowing the spices to bloom.

Add the spaghetti sauce and wine to the pan and bring to a boil. Add the heavy cream, Dijon, and salt.  Bring to a boil again and stir to dissolve the mustard into the sauce.  Add the parmesan cheese and lemon juice.  Let boil for 2-3 minutes until the sauce thickens and coats the back of a spoon.

Add the mussels and the chopped bacon to the sauce and toss to coat.  Cover the pan and let cook for 8-10 minutes, tossing again once after 5 minutes, until the mussels are all just opened – do not overcook.  Discard any mussels that do not open.  Sprinkle the parsley over the top.

Serve hot in bowls with the toasted bread on the side for dipping in that amazing broth… the best part!!

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