Sometimes it’s nice to have an elegant little Valentine’s dinner; sometimes one is in the mood for something gutsier, such as these scrumptious garlicky, citrusy mussels which usually end up being eaten with your hands, the last juices mopped up with crusty bread. A salad of winter tomatoes, sweet onion, and feta is the perfect accompaniment.

CITRUS-GLAZED STEAMED MUSSELS

Now that most mussels are farm-raised, they are relatively uniform in size, have little or no grit, and arrive at market without those pesky little black beards that need to be yanked off. The secret to the citrus sauce is a bit of mashed anchovy, which no one will detect unless you announce the fact ahead of time.

Makes 2 servings

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

½ cup chopped onions

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

2 anchovy fillets, chopped

½ teaspoon grated lemon zest and 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

¼ teaspoon grated lime zest and 2 teaspoons fresh lime juice

¼ teaspoon dried red pepper flakes

1½ pounds (about 30) cultivated mussels, rinsed

½ cup dry white wine

1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano or marjoram, or 1 teaspoon dried

2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley

To make the citrus sauce base, heat the oil and cook onions over medium heat in a small skillet, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 7 minutes. Add garlic and anchovies and cook, mashing anchovies until they dissolve, for 2 minutes. Stir in lemon and lime zest and hot pepper flakes and remove from the heat. (Can be made several hours ahead.)

Place mussels, wine, and oregano in a large saucepan or soup pot. Cover, bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium and cook until the mussels open, 5 to 8 minutes. Use tongs or a slotted spoon to transfer mussels to a shallow serving bowl or individual dishes, reserving the broth. (Discard any mussels that fail to open.)

Meanwhile, heat citrus sauce base in a saucepan. Slowly add mussel broth to the citrus base, leaving behind any grit or mud in the bottom of the cooking pot. Bring to a boil and cook briskly until the sauce is slightly reduced, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in parsley and citrus juices. Pour the sauce over the mussels and serve with plenty of napkins.

WINTER TOMATO, SWEET ONION, AND FETA SALAD

It’s wonderful to see such an array of winter hot house tomatoes – many of them organic – in the supermarket lately. They seem to range in size from tiny grape tomatoes to 3-inch vine cluster tomatoes, and the colors – yellow, deep greenish-purple, pinkish – are astounding. For this salad, choose whatever looks best at the store.

Makes 2 servings

¾ pound hot house tomatoes, preferably organic

About one quarter of a Vidalia or other sweet onion, thinly sliced

2 handfuls of arugula

1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon good balsamic vinegar

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Core tomatoes and cut into halves or quarters or eights, depending on size. Toss in a bowl with the onion. (Leave at room temperature if preparing ahead.)

When ready to serve, spread arugula out onto a platter or shallow dish. Spoon tomato mixture over greens and sprinkle with feta. Drizzle with oil and vinegar, season with salt and pepper, and serve.

Brooke Dojny is author or co-author of more than a dozen cookbooks, most recently “Chowderland: Hearty Soups & Stews with Sides and Salads to Match.” She lives on the Blue Hill peninsula, and can be contacted via Facebook at:

facebook.com/brookedojny