This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Rediscovering America . The opinions and text are all mine.
One thing I loved about my job as a freelancer was that I constantly challenged myself in the kitchen. Because the site I wrote for relied heavily on social media networks like Pinterest for traffic, we were constantly having to come up with extremely unique and innovative recipes. Now that I’ve quit the world of freelancing and am just cooking for pleasure — food and my blog — I’ve sort of hit a creative wall block when it comes to inspiring ideas.
That’s why I was thrilled to try out Chef Sean Mendes’ restaurant — Gillie’s Seafood — and taste his take on a farmer’s casserole for Walmart’s Rediscovering America program. As part of Walmart’s Rediscovering America Program, Walmart tasked nine chefs from across the country, including Chef Sean of Gillie’s Seafood, to create one-of-a-kind dishes using fresh, local and organic fruits and vegetables available in Walmart stores.
The farmer’s casserole I tried at Gillie’s was packed with a hearty serving of in-season produce, like zucchini and squash, sourced from Walmart, along with gooey cheese, and all other things delicious. Every bite was absolutely heavenly. When chefs use fresh, local ingredients, you can always tell the difference like it’s night and day. Little did I know, my local Walmart store has those types of local, high-quality ingredients, making it that much easier to create a dish to really satisfy my cozy, warm, autumnal soup cravings!
Inspired by the local flavor I found at Gillie’s, I stopped by Walmart to pick up carrots and butternut squash to make a Garlic and Butter Mussels over Butternut Squash Bisque. While there, I also learned that they also have an online grocery pick-up service,which actually makes grocery shopping speedier if you’re in a time crunch!
I love to make a good butternut squash bisque, and this time I added mussels for two reasons. One, my husband is obsessed and demanded I make him some. Two, they add such a gorgeous textural element that really balances the soft, velvety soup. Plus, they’re freaking gorgeous, don’t you think?
On a side note, I wanted to share that I’m trying a lot harder to step outside of my comfort zone in the kitchen. As part of my goals with revitalizing this lonely little food blog, I’m trying to make writing recipes something I do because I love it and something I do more frequently. I’m happy it’s not something I rely on for a source of income (how I did that, I have no idea) anymore, but I also want it to be something I’m proud of again—something that reflects who I am as a person, a cook, and a foodie.
In addition to recipes I want to be proud of, I also want to make food that’ll inspire my picky daughter to eat. She has absolutely no desire to eat outside of her own comfort zone, so I’m always trying to find ways to sneak protein, vegetables, and new flavors into her food. This soup is the creamiest, smoothest and most amazing bisque I’ve ever had. Paired with buttery and garlicky mussels, it’s like a dream team when it comes to flavor. In fact, I’m going to remake it this week for a fun little date night in for me and my husband!
GARLIC AND BUTTER MUSSELS OVER BUTTERNUT SQUASH BISQUE
Serves about 4. Soup adapted from All Recipes.
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 45 minutes
Total time: 60 minutes
For the mussels:
- 3 pounds fresh mussels
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- 2 green onions, chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 leek, chopped
- 1/2 cup dry white wine (I used Chardonnay)
- 1/2 cup low sodium chicken broth
- Cracked black pepper
- Fresh sea salt
For the soup:
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup chopped onions
- 1/4 cup chopped leeks
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 cup chopped orange carrots
- 1/4 cup chopped yellow carrots
- 4 cups peeled and chopped butternut squash
- 3 cups low sodium chicken broth
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- Fresh parsley or cilantro for garnish
- Cracked black pepper and salt
- To make the soup, heat the butter in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the leeks, garlic, and onions. Stirring constantly, heat the vegetables until soft and fragrant, about 3 – 4 minutes. Add in the carrots and squash. Heat another 3 – 5 minutes, or until they just start to soften.
- Pour the chicken broth, salt, and pepper over the vegetables. Cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer for about 20 – 25 minutes, or vegetables are extremely tender. Remove from heat and pour into blender in batches until smooth and creamy. Whisk in heavy cream.
- To make the mussels, rinse them under cold water and scrub lightly to remove dirt and excess film from outside of the shells. Remove the mussel beards (or those loose hairs on the shells) and discard them.
- In a large Dutch oven or pot, heat 1 tablespoon butter over medium-high heat. Add the green onions, garlic, and leeks. Reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring frequently, until the vegetables are soft.
- Add the mussels and toss with some tongs. Add in the white wine and the broth. Cover and let steam for about 10 minutes, or until the mussels start to open up. *While the mussels are steaming, it’s important to stir them around so the vegetables don’t stick to the bottom and the mussels are on contact with the heat.
- To serve, ladle the soup into four large bowls. Top with a hefty spoonful of mussels and drizzle with remaining melted butter from the mussels. Garnish with fresh herbs.
NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION PER SERVING:
Fat: 22.2 grams
Carbohydrates: 26.25 grams
Fiber: 2.8 grams
Protein: 32 grams
Weight Watchers Points: 11