Monterias or Stuffed Mussels

Friday, 21 August 2015

This week we've been visiting my husband's family and friends. They live in Cazorla, one of the most amazing villages in Andalucia, Southern Spain. Boasting an abundance of wildlife, breathtaking scenery, crystal clear rivers & tranquil alpine meadows, Cazorla is a charming place.

Covering over 2,000 km2, it is the largest protected reserve in Spain and the second largest in Europe. It was declared a biosphere reserve by UNESCO in 1983.

Two of the Spain’s most important rivers, the Guadalquivir and the Segura, have their sources in Cazorla. Water is abundant in the park, with innumerable crystal clear, trout-filled rivers winding their way through some of the wildest scenery in Spain.

If you have the chance to visit Cazorla, you'll find yourself surrounded by olive, oak and pine trees, which grow side by side creating an amazing landscape. It’s great to explore the mountains following the walking or cycling routes through the forests. It is also possible to see wild animals roaming freely, such as wild goats, deers, wild boars and eagles.

The area is also has the greatest concentration of fortresses and castles of any region in Europe!

If there is something I love from Cazorla is its cuisine. Traditional dishes made from simple and inexpensive ingredients, without fanfare, but full of flavour. Products such as game, trout, flour, fresh home grown fruit and vegetables can be found in every bar or restaurant.

But without doubt, the star product is the excellent olive oil, or liquid gold as is known in the area. Jaen, the county where Cazorla is located, is the largest producer of Olive Oil in Spain and also world-wide.  With more than 550.000 hectares of olive tree fields and over 60 million trees. That means that with an extension similar to Cornwall, Jaen produces more olive oil than the entire Italy.

So as you can imagine, this is the perfect summer destination, even more when travelling with kids.

In August, when the weather is extremely hot, life starts from 9.00 pm onwards, when the cold breeze comes down the mountains and the bars are bursting with people enjoying one of the best things in life an iced beer with tapas in a starry summery night.

This week's recipe is one of my favourite tapas. This fresh stuffed mussels are a little dish big on flavour that will surprise family and friends.


750gr Fresh Mussels
1cup White Wine
1 Bay Leaf
1tbsp Salt
10/15 Black Whole Peppercorns

For the garnish

1 Chopped Tomato
1 Chopped Onion
2 Garlic Cloves, minced
1 Sprig Parsley
2tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil

For the Bechamel 

3tbsp Flour
2tbsp Butter
3cup Whole Milk
1tsp Ground Nutmeg
1tsp Ground White Pepper
1tsp Salt

For Coating

1 Free Range Egg
4tbsp Fine Dry Breadcrumbs
2 cup Olive Oil


Mussels need to be extremely fresh, have been scrubbed and beards removed. If you are going to use frozen mussels, they should already be cleaned. Also, the shells should be opened.

To open fresh mussels, pour the white wine, the bay leaf, salt and peppercorns into a medium size pot and bring to a boil. Cover the pan and shake it until the shells open. Remove from heat and discard any mussels that do not open. Keep 1/2 cup of the wine for later.

Chop the mussels's flesh into very thin pieces and set the shells aside.

Pour the olive oil into a frying pan and add the onion and the garlic cloves. Fry lightly. Add the peeled and diced tomato and parsley. Fry until the water disappear. Add the chopped mussels, stir well, and cook the mixture for a couple of minutes. Strain the extra oil from the mixture with a strainer and set aside.

To make the bechamel, pour the drained oil with the butter in a large frying pan. Add the flour and cook lightly, for 3-5 minutes.

Pour in the milk in a slow, steady stream and stir the mixture continuously, until the mixture is thick and smooth. Add the wine from cooking the mussels and simmer. Season with nutmeg, white pepper and salt to taste.

Remove from heat and let the sauce cool down.

Select the bigger mussels' shells and make sure the inside is clean. Fill the shells with the mussels and vegetables mixture and cover with bechamel sauce.

Put the bread crumbs and beaten egg in two different bowls. Dip the mussels into the egg and roll them in the bread crumbs.

Place the stuffed mussels into the hot oil to fry, shell side up. Drain on kitchen paper.

Serve warm and enjoy!

1 comment:

  1. Yummy! This year I didnt have chance for Monterias! :(
    Thanks for this cool picture of our town! Come back soon! ;*


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