With a bean-and-mussel salad, a crisp, citrusy white wine

A bean-and-mussel salad with celery, onion, lemon and olive oil makes a great first course with a Fiano di Avellino from Italy's Campania region.
(S. Irene Virbila / Los Angeles Times)

One night, I bought more mussels than I needed for a paella, so after dinner I steamed the extras, took them out of their shells and put them in the fridge.

My first idea was to serve them as a salad with a little homemade mayonnaise, but then I remembered a soup of beans and mussels I had at a restaurant in Olbia, Sardinia, years ago. That gave me the idea of making a salad of beans and mussels.

After soaking some big white beans in water overnight, I cooked them with thyme and a sofrito of onion, celery and carrot. When the pot had cooled to room temperature, I combined the beans with the mussels, minced shallots and sliced celery, and dressed the salad with olive oil and lemon.


As a last touch, I added a sprinkling flat-leaved parsley leaves.

To drink with my bean-and-mussel salad I opened a bottle of 2011 Pietra Cupa Fiano di Avellino from the Campania region of southern Italy, where wine has been made since Roman times. Sweet!

The wine’s stern minerality, crisp acidity and soft, ripe flavors of peach and hazelnuts went beautifully with the earthy beans and the plump, sweet mussels. But if you can’t find that particular wine, pick up another Fiano di Avellino or a Greco di Tufo from the same area. A crisp Vermentino or other minerally white wine would do too.


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