Steamed Mussels with Fennel and Tomato


1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
5 large cloves garlic, very thinly sliced
1 bulb fennel (with some fronds), halved and thinly sliced
2 medium carrots, very thinly sliced
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup dry vermouth or white wine
1 28-ounce can San Marzano plum tomatoes, crushed lightly by hand
2 teaspoons roughly chopped fresh tarragon
2 pounds mussels (preferably cultivated), scrubbed well and beards pulled off
Crusty bread, for serving

Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the garlic and fennel; cook until just soft and fragrant, about 4 minutes. Add the carrots and season with salt and pepper; continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the carrots are just soft, about 4 minutes. Add the vermouth and boil to reduce slightly. Add the tomatoes andtarragon, then cover the pot and simmer until the vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes.

Stir in 1/2 cup water and the mussels. Raise the heat to high, cover and cook until the mussels open, 3 to 5 minutes. (Check halfway through and transfer any open mussels to a serving bowl.) Transfer all the mussels to a serving bowl, discarding any that do not open. Season the sauce with pepper and, if needed, salt, and pour over the mussels. Serve with the bread.

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