What you might expect to be strong anise notes in the ouzo-spiked broth of these mussels is mellowed by an equal amount of white wine.

Mussels Drenched in Ouzo

2 servings

2 cloves garlic

1 large shallot

1 cup grape tomatoes

1/2 small fennel bulb, with stems and fronds

2 or 3 stems fresh thyme

Leaves from 2 to 4 stems flat-leaf parsley

2 pounds fresh mussels

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1/4 cup ouzo

1/4 cup dry white wine

1. Cut the garlic into thin slices. Coarsely chop enough shallot to yield 1/2 cup. Cut each tomato in half lengthwise. Chop a few of the fennel fronds; reserve the remaining stems and fronds for another use. Core the fennel bulb half, then slice thin.

2. Pluck the thyme stems to yield 1 teaspoon. Finely chop the parsley.

3. Rinse the mussels and clean as needed, discarding stringy bits (beards). Discard any mussels that have opened and will not close when tapped.

4. Heat the oil and butter in a large pot over low heat. Once the butter has melted, add the garlic and stir to coat. Cook for 2 minutes, then add the shallot; stir to coat. Increase heat to medium; cook for 5 to 7 minutes, stirring, until the garlic and shallot have somewhat softened.

5. Add the tomatoes, fennel, salt (to taste), pepper, pepper flakes, and thyme; stir to incorporate, then cook for 3 minutes.

6. Add the ouzo, wine, and mussels. Cover and cook (medium heat) for 7 to 10 minutes or until the mussels have opened.

7. Uncover; discard any mussels that remained closed. Add the chopped parsley and fennel fronds. Toss the mussels in the pot liquor and incorporate the herbs and vegetables.

8. Divide among shallow bowls; serve right away.

- Adapted from Balaboosta: Bold Mediterranean Recipes to Feed the People You Love, (Artisan, 2013)

Per serving: 670 calories, 57 g protein, 36 g carbohydrates, 23 g fat, 7 g saturated fat, 140 mg cholesterol, 1820 mg sodium, 3 g dietary fiber, 2 g sugar