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.
This was an easy and delisious dish! My mom would be proud
Oh, that makes me so happy, Theresa! Here’s to our proud Mammas! :)
Not ideal but could you use frozen ones instead ?
Great question, Rose! I have never used frozen mussels before, but would expect that you can certainly use them in this recipe. I would check the package directions on use. I’d love to hear how it turns out!
Just made this recipe and my husband and I both loved it!! We used mussels from Newfoundland and it was delicious! Thank you!!
That make me so happy, Sheila! Thank you for taking the time to let us know!
Im making to take to a party can i make and reheat when i get to the party
I’m sure you’ve figured this out by now, Laurie, but I personally do not reheat this dish. I’d prep everything and just put it all together and cook it just before serving. Hope you loved it!
I made this last weekend for my wife. It was heavenly. We absolutely loved this recipe. It’s so easy and so delicious.
Thank you for sharing!
I found that going with the full 1/2 teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes was perfect. It gave a nice, subtle heat that I don’t think anyone but the most spicy-sensitive folks would object to. I used PEI rope grown mussels. I soaked them in lightly salted water with ice for 30 minutes and had no issues with grit. Also, I substituted the parsley with fresh basil, which worked out quite nicely.
This makes me so happy, Scott! So glad to hear your and your wife enjoyed this! That sounds like the perfect amount of chili flakes!
I will try your recipe tonight. Looks good to me! I’m a bit different in that I caught my own mussels from Eastham, Cape Cod, MA. They were big and plump and in a channel washed by ocean water every tide. I hauled home about 100 mussels, as well as 84 quahogs (hardshell clams). The mussels have to be eaten first as they stay the shortest in the fridge. The clams can last up to a month. I will add some clams to your recipe. I made mussels and clams with spaghetti last night based on a white wine based Sicilian recipe I took out of my Sicilian Cookbook. That came out quite nicely, and my wife was impressed. I also made an antipasto and garlic bread to compliment the main dish. That would work also with your recipe I think. Anyhow – cleaning wild mussels. They were covered with sand and seaweed. 2 things – take a chore boy – the copper metal scrubber – and scrub the daylights out of the mussels. Use a bit of elbow grease under cold running water and they clean up quite nicely. 2nd thing – the “beard”. Sticking out the mussels’ shell is a tough bunch of hairs the mussels use to attach to structure, like seaweed or rocks called the “beard”. It can be hard to pull this out of the mussel by hand. I use a pair of needle-nose pliers, grab the beard, and pull it toward the open end of the mussel. It will pull right out. Any mussels found to be open I discarded. Some of them were a little bit open and when I squeezed them, they closed up. They were OK. If they don’t close up and stay open – toss ’em. Good luck!
Thanks so much for sharing all of this great info, Fred! I know everyone will appreciate your tips on cleaning mussels! Adding clams to the mix sounds great! I’d love to hear how the recipe works out for you! :)
Just made this tonight and loved it! Thanks for a lovely story and delicious recipe. Will be making it often! I do think that using PEI mussels is key. Thanks again!
So thrilled that you enjoyed this recipe, Lili! Yes…PEI mussels are my favorite! Your kind words made my day…thank you! :)
Absolutely AWESOME–enjoying mussels weekly thanks to your recipe. Tanta Grazie!!
Oh, Vince! You are so kind…this just made me so happy! Prego! :)
I liked your story about your father taking you and your sisters for mussels. It reminded me of a long forgotten memory of my Dad. He took us to a clam place and they used clam shells for ashtrays. I had forgotten all about that . Thanks
I’m so happy this brought that memory back for you, Gene! We are probably from the same era! I remember seeing people use those giant clam shells as ashtrays too! Hahaha! Thanks for making me smile!
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.
Thanks for sharing that, Eric! I like that idea of using a strainer to allow the sand to stay behind. I’ll give that a try next time!
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
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!
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!
This is so my kind of recipe!
Thanks so much Carolyn! Me too…this is one of my favorites!
Kelsey at Fueling Strong
I made this for dinner last night, and it was amazing!! I am reposting your recipe on my blog right now. http://www.fuelingstrong.com! Thank you for the recipe inspiration!
I’m so happy you liked it Kelsey! That’s really nice of you to come back and let me know. Thanks for sharing it on your blog. :)
I bet this smelled amazing! Looks delicious :)
It really did Talaia! Once the wine hits the heat, I fall in love! ;) Thanks so much!