Mussels contain a substantially higher level of healthy Omega 3’s than any other shellfish. This is why I regularly hand-harvest these beautiful bi-valves outside the cottage in Scotland and turn them into a variety of recipes, from smoked mussels to mussel ceviche. But my favorite is a hefty bowl of Mussels Marinara, prepared with healthy olive oil, garlic, fennel and chili, swimming in a fragrant broth of tomato, wine and mussel liquor. Whether you eat these beauties “straight up” with crusty bread, or dish them over a bed of whole-wheat pasta, this recipe is ultimately delicious and nutritious!
|Prep Time||15 Minutes|
|Cook Time||20 Minutes|
- 1 bag live mussels 3 to 5 pound bag
- 1 each red bell pepper
- 1 each fennel bulb
- 3 each red chiles small
- 28 ounces tomatoes canned low-or-no sodium diced
- .25 cup olive oil
- .5 cup dry white wine
- .5 bunch flat leaf parsley
- 1 handful fresh basil leaves
- 8 garlic cloves
- fresh ground pepper
- Clean and de-beard the mussels, checking for and discarding any that don’t close when handled. Mussels that don’t close are dead muscles. Toss them out.
- Dice the onion, fennel and red bell pepper. Also mince the garlic and red chilies.
- Place your largest, high-sided pot over medium heat, add the olive oil and sauté the onion and garlic quickly to open up the aromas. Then add the fennel, red chili and red bell pepper, sautéing until vegetables are gently softened.
- Add several grinds black pepper. Coarsely chop the parsley and sprinkle half of it into the pot. Add the white wine and the diced tomatoes (canned or fresh). Stir to combine all ingredients.
- Add the mussels, stir again and cover pot. Turn down the heat to medium low and let mussels steam until they open. This should take no more than 10 minutes, allowing them to release all their fragrant mussel liquor into the pot and enhancing the Marinara-style broth.
- Uncover pot and stir to thoroughly combine flavorful pot liquor with the open mussels. Any that have not opened should also be discarded.
- Finally, cut the fresh basil into thin ribbons, adding it and the remaining parsley into the pot. One final stir and it’s ready to eat. Serve as is in a soup bowl with crusty bread, or serve over a modest portion of whole-wheat pasta cooked al dente!
This recipe requires no added salt. Each medium-size mussel naturally contains 50 milligrams of sodium from its ocean environment, which is plenty.
The edible yield from a single mussel is small, so plan on at least 12 per person. Also, always check for possible grit contamination. Farmed mussels are suspended from ropes and should be grit free, but if you collect your own off rocky structure at low tide, anywhere near sand, the mussels are bound to have some grit in them. In such cases let the collected mussels stand in a bucket of clean seawater for 24 hours to purge any grit that may be contained within their shells.