Yes, I am a nerd. I admit that I did take food blog pictures while I was on vacation. When I told The Husband what I was doing, he just rolled his eyes.
Have you ever desperately needed a change of scenery? For about a month, that was my situation. It seemed like every morning I got up and did the same thing over and over and over again. I was sick of getting up at the same time every morning, sick of sitting in traffic every evening, and sick of begging Little Tot to eat something else for dinner besides a grilled cheese sandwich.
All those late nights after work writing freelance for the last six months paid off, because two weeks ago I got my change of scenery. We were able to spend a week on the Gulf Coast and we paid for it in CASH. Not a single credit card was swiped during the entire trip. Trust me, the sun feels a lot more inviting and the waves way more soothing when you know your vacation wasn’t financed by anybody but you.
I was a little nervous about spending an entire week with my family. Twenty-four hours a day, for seven days, in a one bedroom condo. I feel bad even thinking that. I love my husband and my child. I really, really do. And I enjoy spending time with them. But I pointed out to The Husband and this vacation was likely the longest stretch either of us has probably spent with Little Tot since I went back to work after maternity leave.
I’m not gonna lie. There were times when I thought I would scream if I heard “Mama!” one more time. And there were the exhausted meltdowns (by Little Tot, not me) that ensued after a day at the beach where I was sure any minute the people next door were going to come knocking because they probably thought we were beating him.
I can laugh at those moments now because I’m home and sitting in silence at my computer. One day I will look back on that trip and I feel confident won’t remember the meltdowns or “Mama, mama, mama.” I will remember Little Tot walking out onto the beach the first day, looking around at all the white sand and commenting to me that it had snowed. Or the afternoon he said, “Mama, hold my hand. Let’s look for seashells.”
Our condo had a little kitchen, so I cooked most of our meals while we were there. It was way cheaper than eating out every night and honestly I didn’t mind. It gave me the opportunity to take advantage of our proximity to the fresh local seafood that was available.
This one stood out the most. I don’t often cook with mussels because I only know of one store in the Jackson-metro area that carries them and even then they aren’t reliable. I bought the magazine this recipe came from on a whim three years ago and held onto it this whole time in hopes that one day I would get the opportunity to make this dish.
The flavors of the saffron and the tomatoes paired with the briny taste of the mussels were so complex, but they just meshed. It was one of those dishes where you have to slurp the noodles and you need lots of bread to sop up all the juice. It’s definitely on the menu for next summer.
- ½ pound spaghetti
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- ¼ teaspoon crumbled saffron threads
- 1 anchovy filet in oil, rinsed and finely chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 (28 oz.) can diced tomatoes
- ½ teaspoon chopped fresh oregano
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh basil
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 ¼ pound fresh mussels, scrubbed and beards removed
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook spaghetti according to package direction. Drain pasta and set aside.
- In the meantime, heat olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium high heat. Add saffron, anchovy filet, and garlic and cook until garlic becomes fragrant, about 30 seconds to one minute.
- Add tomatoes, oregano, basil and red pepper flakes. Bring sauce to a boil.
- Add mussels and carefully nestle them within the sauce. Reduce the heat to medium, cover the pan, and cook until the mussels open their shells, approximately 4-6 minutes. Remove pan from heat. Remove and discard and mussels that did not open during cooking.
- Place a pile of spaghetti on each plate. Serve mussels and broth over the noodles. Serve with warm crusty garlic bread on the side.