Mussels Marinara or Fra Diavolo for the Brave!

Mussels Marinara or Fra Diavolo

Anytime I eat mussels or clams I think of my Dad. When my sisters and I were very young, he’d take us to out-of-the-way, obscure restaurants or clam bars to get some of the most fresh and amazing seafood. I remember being so young, that I’d have to sit on my knees to see over the top of the bucket of clams or mussels that they’d set in front of me. We each had a bucket to ourselves and we dug in with both fists and devoured them! I can still see the proud smile on my Dad’s face as he looked at his three girls, elbows deep in spent shells. I miss that smile every single day.

This is one of my favorite ways to eat mussels. This is my basic Marinara, but with a sprinkling of red chili flakes, it becomes Fra Diavolo! I used to serve this with pasta, but I’d end up eating half a loaf of bread anyway. The sauce is the best part. So, now, I skip the pasta and just buy the best baguette I can find. Dipping that bread into the sauce is heavenly.

Mussels Marinara or Fra Diavolo

Mussels Marinara or Fra Diavolo

1/4 C. olive oil
4 – 5 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 C. dry, crisp white wine, such as a Pinot Grigio
1 28 oz. can whole San Marzano tomatoes, crushed by hand
pinch of sea salt and a few cracks of black pepper
about 1/4 to 1/2 t. crushed red pepper flakes if you’d like Fra Diavolo
4 lbs. mussels (I use Prince Edward Island Mussels)
1/2 bunch of fresh parsley
1 or 2 baguettes, warmed, for serving

In a large pot over medium heat, heat the olive oil and sauté the garlic for about 2 minutes, being careful not to brown it. Add the wine and bring the heat up to high. Bring the wine to a boil and simmer for another two minutes. Reduce the heat to medium low and add the tomatoes (I crush the whole tomatoes out of the can by hand, removing any hard stem end and discarding those. Then, pour the remaining sauce from the can into the pot as well). Add the salt and the peppers.

Once the sauce is at a light simmer, add the mussels, give them a stir, raise the heat to medium and cover the pot. Cook for about 6 to 8 minutes, or until all of the mussels have opened, then stir in the parsley.

Serve with the warm baguette or over pasta, if desired.

Notes:

  • There are a lot of different methods people use to “clean” their mussels. I know. I’ve tried them all! There’s soaking them in water with cornstarch, cornmeal or flour. Honestly, I haven’t noticed any of those methods working much better than just soaking them in a large bowl for about 15 to 20 minutes in cold water and a little bit of sea salt. That’s what I do. But then, I don’t scrub the mussels either. I’ll pull an occasional beard here and there, but honestly, I’m weird. I’m ok with that stuff! And really, a lot of the mussels in the stores now are “rope cultured,” so they are pretty clean. If you’ve got a method that works well, let me know. Click on “Leave a reply” below. I’d love to hear from you!
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11 thoughts on “Mussels Marinara or Fra Diavolo for the Brave!

  1. Eric

    Rinse the mussels in a strainer submerged under cold water. Drain the water, keep repeating this process over and over until the water is clear and not sandy, best advice don’t let them sit under water for too long.

    Reply
  2. mlise

    I love seafood too!
    Depending on where the mussels come from I give them a thorough scrub or just rinse them.
    However I do always tap them to see whether they close before cooking and of course chuck out the still closed ones after cooking. :-) mlise

    Reply
  3. Rachel

    We live in Sicily right now, and this recipe is SPOT ON! We love going out for seafood, but with our two kids it can get expensive. Cooking at home with them is more fun, anyway. Thanks for the recipe!

    Reply
    1. Caroline

      Rachel, how wonderful to be living in Sicily! I think this may be the best compliment I’ve ever received! Thank you so much! I’m thrilled you like this so much. I agree with you…cooking at home is so much fun…especially when you’re all in the kitchen together!

      Reply

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