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Pickling mussels after they’re cooked is a good way to serve them as an appetizer. A large batch can be made the day before and set out at room temperature with toothpicks. Although, when the mussels are served with seared cherry tomatoes, you’ll need a spoon to scoop up all the garlicky, juicy goodness. And a fork will be necessary if you choose to eat the mussels and tomatoes over a bowl of salad greens, which is a fine idea, too.
When mussels are quick-pickled, for an hour or overnight, it gives them a vinegary kick, plus the heat of smoked paprika and red pepper flakes. The more ways you know to prepare and serve mussels, the better, since they’re a food that should regularly show up on your plate. Why? Mussels are nutrient-dense morsels filled with B vitamins, selenium, zinc, magnesium and manganese. You don’t need to eat a ton of mussels, or other shellfish, to get a healthy serving of nutrients. So share this batch of pickled mussels with friends, or cut the recipe in half for a smaller serving.
Time in the Kitchen: 45 minutes, plus 2 hours to pickle
In a shallow pot of boiling water, cook the mussels with a lid for 2 to 3 minutes until they open. Drain. Discard any shells that do not open. When the mussels are cool enough to handle, remove them from their shells. Discard the shells and refrigerate the mussels.
Heat 1/4 cup olive oil over medium heat. Add the shallots and cook until soft, 3 minutes. Add the vinegar, red pepper flakes, smoked paprika and salt and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove the liquid from heat and let cool for 10 minutes.
In a bowl or jar, pour the liquid over the mussels and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 24 hours.
Before serving, set the mussels in their liquid on the counter to come up to room temperature.
Heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat until the oil is very hot and shimmering. Add tomatoes and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, stirring only occasionally, until the tomatoes are blackened in places and begin to collapse.
Stir in garlic and cook only about 30 seconds, before the garlic burns. Season the tomatoes with salt and let cool.
Drain the mussels and toss with the tomatoes. Garnish with parsley.