The allotment provides us with a lot of our food; we harvest lots of fruit and veg from the standard sized allotment chunk of land. However, when it comes to protein we struggle. Short of eating the plethora of slugs which attempt to sabotage our vegetable growing, or the masses of woodlice which have taken a liking to our apples, its pretty hard to produce meat protein on an allotment. But what about chickens I hear you say? Well, yes they would do the job nicely, but we’re not allowed to keep livestock on our plots, so that’s not possible for us.
I’m always up for free food sources; whether the leftover veg at the local grocers, bin diving at supermarkets, or foraging the hedgerows of Sussex, I tend not to let the opportunity pass. Whilst down at the beach the other day we came across a load of mussels. Not massive examples of the common bivalve, but large enough to give us a little free protein in our diet. Having watched the recent BBC Horizon programme on the environmental effects of eating meat, I’d been reminded that mussels are a great source of protein, and are one of the most environmentally friendly methods of getting meat into your diet. Plus, if you forage them they are free! I should add a caveat here. I know that the mussels I foraged were from a safe source; a couple of months back I had a conversation with someone who had been eating for years, mussels, shrimp, even lobster, all caught on this beach. Obviously, its also only ok to forage mussels if there are lots there to take and they’re of a decent size.
You will need (serves 2)
About 1kg mussels (cleaned, rinsed, and checked over for ones which don’t close)
1 shallot (finely chopped)
1/2 clove garlic (finely chopped)
1/2 tbsp. olive oil
1 small glass of white wine
50ml double cream
Black pepper to season
Fry the shallots and garlic gently in the oil until they are soft and translucent. Turn the heat up and then pour in the wine. Bring to the boil for a minute, throw in the mussels, then give the pan a shake. Cook the mussels for a few minutes until the majority of the mussels have opened to show their vibrant orange interiors. Pour over the cream, add some black pepper and then transfer to a dish to serve. I always think you need either bread or French fries to accompany this.