Every time 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 generous 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
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 4 - 5 cloves of garlic finely chopped
- 1 cup dry crisp white wine, such as a Pinot Grigio
- 28 ounce 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 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes if you'd like Fra Diavolo
- 4 pounds mussels I use Prince Edward Island Mussels
- 1/2 bunch of fresh parsley
- 1 baguette 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.