Mussels in Tomato Basil Sauce

For some reason many people seem to be afraid to try mussels, but yet want to try mussels.  If you can get them fresh you are in business.  Fresh mussels offer many of the benefits of eating fresh seafood without tasting at all fishy.  Like they say, “Tastes like chicken!”  They are also very easy and quick to prepare in most cases.

Chilean Celebration
Mariscada Recado

Mussels usually come in a 2 pound bag and must be kept on ice and not in water.  They can be refrigerated a few days as long as you drain the water periodically.  I’ve been know to keep them in the bathtub with ice, but that’s another story.

Creamy Mussels Pasta
Mariscada Recado
Mussels in Tomato Broth

You can sprinkle the mussels with corn meal, if you like, at least 30 minutes before preparing.  They eat the cornmeal (not that I’ve actually seen them do this) and spit out any sand they may be carrying.  I don’t always do this and have yet to get sand in my food.

Mussels with Tomato Basil
Mussles in Tomato Broth
Mussels Portuguese Style

Mussels are very versatile and are great whether you serve them as an appetizer, soup course, or main dish.  Here are some recipes for you to try.

Mussels and Yogurt Appetizer


  • 1 1/4 lbs mussels ( about 40)
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 2 tablespoons capers, rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup Greek yogurt
  • kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons fresh mint, cut into thin strips ( julienne, about 10 leaves)


  1. Clean and debeard the mussels and rinse in a colander under cold running water, discarding any whose shells are cracked or do not close tightly when tapped.
  2. In a large saucepan, over medium heat, combine the mussels with the wine, stirring to combine. Cover and cook 4 to 5 minutes until shells have opened. Transfer opened shells to a bowl to cool. Re-cover and cook for a few minutes as needed until all the mussels have opened. Discard any that do not open.
  3. Once cooled, remove shells from mussels and reserve half for serving. Place mussels in a bowl and then strain the cooking liquid into the same bowl, discarding solids. Cover and refrigerate until serving time.
  4. Mince the capers finely and place in a small bowl. Add yogurt and season with salt. Add 2 tablespoons of the cooking liquid (which has been added to the mussels in the refrigerator). Mix well with a whisk to slightly whip the yogurt.
  5. To serve, in reserved half shell, dollop a small amount of caper yogurt, place a mussel on top, and garnish with mint.

Soups with Mussels


I prefer this dish made as a soup rather than the more traditional stew.  I included vegetable stock as optional to reflect this.


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 onions, cut in half then sliced thin
  • 2 red peppers, sliced thin
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 10 ounces potatoes, peeled and sliced in 1/2 inch slices
  • 4 tomatoes, coarsely chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups dry white wine
  • 4 cups vegetable broth (optional)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4 black peppercorns
  • 1 pinch saffron
  • 1 lb swordfish, 1 1/2 inch dice ( or mackerel or tuna ie oily fish)
  • 1 lb haddock, 1 1/2 inch dice ( or sea bass or monkfish, ie white fish)
  • 16 large shrimp, peeled tails intact
  • 16 mussels
  • 16 clams
  • fresh cilantro ( to garnish)

Garlic Toasts:

  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and halved
  • 1 baguette, sliced on the diagonal and toasted


  1.   In a large saucepan, heat oil over medium low heat, add onion, peppers, garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion softens, about 10 minutes.
  2. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook 10 minutes more, stirring occasionally.

 Mussels with Red Curry Garlic Broth



  • 1/3 baguette ( about 8 slices)
  • 1 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil


  • 2 lbs large mussels, cleaned and debearded
  • 2 cups dry white wine
  • 4 tablespoons butter ( 1/2 stick or 1/4 cup)
  • 1 garlic cloves, pressed through a garlic press
  • 1/2 teaspoon red curry paste
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth or 1 (6 ounce) cans v-8 spicy hot tomato juice
  • kosher salt (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Cut baguette, on the bias, into 1/2 inch thin ovals.
  3. Spread on baking sheet and toast until crisp and golden, about 5 minutes.
  4. Cut garlic in half and rub one side of each toast; then rub with a handful of basil leaves until it is green and fragrant.
  5. Increase heat in oven to 500 degrees F.
  6. Spread mussels out on a rimmed baking sheet and pour the wine over them; roast until opened, about 10 minutes.
  7. Meanwhile, melt butter in a skillet, add pressed garlic, and cook for one minute, stirring to prevent browning.
  8. Pour chicken broth or tomato juice into the the skillet and stir in the curry paste; season with salt to taste, if needed.

Chicken Bouillabaise

This recipe is adapted from Chef Eric Ripart of La Bernadine in Manhattan.  Incidentally, this restaurant just took top honors in Zagat’s survey.  You may recognize the chef from Top Chef and his PBS series, Avec Eric.  Love both the show and love this chef.  He attempts to make top notch gourmet recipes accessible to the home cook.


  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon Spanish saffron threads
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 (4 lb) chicken, cut into 10 pieces ( breasts are quartered)
  • 1 large onions, sliced
  • 1 fennel bulbs, sliced ( cut off greens, halve and slice)
  • 1/4 cup garlic cloves, sliced
  • 1/2 cup white wine ( double if not using Pernod)
  • 1/2 cup Pernod (optional)
  • 1 cup tomatoes, strained ( puree diced canned tomatoes, push some through a strainer, use liquid and reserve solids for another use)
  • kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 lb tiny new potatoes, scrubbed and rinsed
  • 1 lb mussels, rinsed and beards removed
  • 2 dozen littleneck clams, rinsed


  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup olive oil

For Serving:

  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 baguette, sliced 1/2 inch thick and toasted


  1. Heat chicken broth and saffron, over low heat, in a small saucepan on the back burner (this allows the saffron to steep in the broth producing the best flavor and color).
  2. Heat olive oil in a large Dutch oven (or pressure cooker), over medium high heat; sear chicken pieces in batches, set aside (it is important that chicken is patted dry before placing in hot pot to get a good sear and for it not to stick).
  3. Add the sliced onion, fennel, and garlic to pot and saute, stirring occasionally, until they start to caramelize around the edges, about 5 minutes or so.
  4. Stir in the wine and Pernod, if using, scraping browned bits off the bottom of pot, and continue cooking until the liquid is almost evaporated.
  5. Add the strained tomatoes, chicken stock and saffron, and bring to a simmer; return chicken pieces and season with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.
  6. Lower heat to medium low, cover, and let simmer until chicken is partially cooked, 20 to 30 minutes (pressure cooker: let come to pressure, reduce heat and cook 15 minutes).
  7. Add the potatoes, cover, and continue cooking until chicken is fully cooked and potatoes are tender, another 20 to 25 minutes (pressure cooker: 15 minutes).
  8. Meanwhile, make the aioli by processing egg yolks, lemon juice, and garlic in a food processor; slowly drizzle in olive oil until thick and emulsified.
  9. Season with salt and pepper.
  10. Just before serving, add mussels and clams to soup and simmer until they open, about 5 minutes; taste and add salt and pepper, if needed.
  11. Spoon bouillabasse into bowls, garnish with parsley; serve with aioli and toasted baguette slices.

Zuppa di Mare (Seafood Soup)

This recipe uses a variety of fresh seafood, so you can use them all or just what you want or have available. It is very important to prepare all the ingredients beforehand since it cooks so quickly. The last thing you want to do is overcook the lovely seafood.

Zuppa di Mare


  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 4 anchovies ( about 1 ounce)
  • 3 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided


  • 8 mussels, cleaned
  • 8 littleneck clams, cleaned
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable stock or 1 1/2 cups fish stock or 1 1/2 cups chicken stock or 1 1/2 cups clam juice
  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • 1 pinch saffron
  • 1/2 lb white fish fillets, cut into bite sized dice ( grouper, swordfish, halibut, snapper)
  • 4 sea scallops
  • 8 large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1/2 lb calamari, cleaned and sliced crosswise into rings


  1. In a food processor, chop garlic and anchovies; add 2 tablespoons parsley, red pepper flakes, oregano and 2 tablespoons olive oil.
  2. Process to form a loose paste (I had to add more of the olive oil – add up to 2 more tablespoons to process).
  3. In a large saucepan or Dutch oven, saute softrito, over medium heat, until the garlic pieces are golden and it sizzles.
  4. Stir in the mussels and clams, tossing to coat in sofrito.
  5. Add wine, increase heat to medium high, and cook until reduced by half.
  6. Stir in stock, tomato sauce, and saffron; return to a simmer.
  7. Add diced fish and cook one minute.
  8. Add scallops, cook one minute.
  9. Add shrimp, cook one minute.
  10. Add squid; taste for seasonings.
  11. By this time the shells should have opened (sometimes the shellfish, especially the mussels, open before this point and I remove them so they don’t get rubbery, then return them at the end), if not cover for a minute or so, until they open; discard any shells that do not open.
  12. Drizzle 2 tablespoons olive oil over soup and garnish with remaining parsley.

Mariscada en Salsa Verde

The seafood stew gets it’s green sauce from tomatillos and fresh parsley. I’ve adjusted the traditional cooking method a bit to, hopefully, bring out the flavors of the seafood with less of a “fishy” taste. This is a Spanish version, rather than Mexican or Latin American so it uses fresh parsley. If you prefer, you can substitute fresh cilantro for some or all of the parsley.

Mariscada en Salsa Verde

  • 1/2 lb tomatillos
  • 1 medium onions, chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 13 1/2 ounces unsweetened coconut milk ( or whatever your can size is)
  • 2 cups chicken stock or 2 cups water and 2 tsp chicken bouillon
  • 1 cup dry white wine ( like Pinot Grigio, one you would drink)
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped ( about 1/2 a bunch)
  • kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/4 lb large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1/4 lb sea scallops
  • 2 lobster tails
  • 12 littleneck clams
  • 12 mussels
  • 1/4 lb squid, bodies washed well and cut into rings ( calamari)
  • fresh parsley, optional for garnish
  • heavy cream, optional for garnish


  1. Cook tomatillos in boiling water for about 3 minutes (they will change color), cool off in cold water for a couple of minutes, then chop in a food processor.
  2. Add onions and garlic to food processor and coarsely puree.
  3. Heat oil in a large saucepan and saute puree until onions are tender, about 5 minutes (I know this is hard to tell, but use your nose; the puree will smell strongly of onions, but once done, the aroma will be lessened).
  4. Stir in coconut milk, chicken stock, wine, and parsley; season with salt and pepper and hot sauce.
  5. Cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, 20 minutes.
  6. Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon butter in a skillet over medium high heat; add shrimp and saute until slightly seared, but not necessarily cooked through (will finish in the sauce), about 1 minute per side; set aside.
  7. Saute scallops until seared, about 2 minutes per side (will also finish in sauce); set aside.
  8. Wipe out skillet and add about 1/4 cup water and and lobster tails; cover and let steam about 3 minutes; snip in half, lengthwise, with kitchen shears, and set aside.
  9. Add clams to skillet, cover and cook clams, shaking occasionally, until one opens, then add mussels.
  10. Re-cover and cook, while shaking pan occasionally, until all shells open.
  11. Add seafood, including squid (calamari) to salsa verde and heat through, about 10 minutes.
  12. Serve with optional garnishes.


  1. Once, salsa verde is finished simmering, pour it into an oven-safe covered casserole (a pretty one for serving).
  2. Add seafood, stir, cover, and bake at 325 degrees F until bubbly, about 30 minutes.
  3. Bring to the table in the casserole dish; pass optional garnishes.


I think just about everyone likes Paella.  It is a traditional Spanish rice dish with seafood, chicken and sausage. It’s a one pot meal, served family style in the pot it’s cooked in.  This is my easy version.


  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 4 chicken wings
  • 1/2 lb medium shrimp, tails on
  • 1 medium onions, chopped
  • 1 large red bell peppers, diced
  • 4 ounces Spanish chorizo, sliced (substitute kielbasa or other sausage)
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon saffron threads (substitute turmeric)
  • 1/8 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 5 tomatoes, peeled, seeded, diced (sub large can whole tomatoes)
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups rice (short or long grain)
  • 2 (14 1/2 ounce) cans chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas
  • 2 dozen mussels, scrubbed and bearded
  • 10 Spanish olives with pimento, sliced if large


  1. Heat oil in large, deep skilled or oven safe dutch oven (preferably cast iron or cast aluminum).
  2. Saute chicken about 10 minutes until golden, not brown; remove and set aside.
  3. Saute shrimp until just becomes pink; remove and set aside.
  4. Saute onion and bell pepper about 10 minutes until soft.
  5. Add chorizo, garlic, bay leaf, saffron and thyme; stir and cook 5 minutes. Add tomatoes, salt and pepper; stir.
  6. Add rice and cook about 5 minutes.
  7. Add chicken broth, increasing heat to medium high.
  8. Once mixture boils, sprinkle with peas and place in oven, uncovered.
  9. Cook 15 minutes until rice is tender and moist.
  10. Push mussels into rice and cook an additional 5 minutes until shells open.
  11. Garnish with olives and serve.

 Mussels and Saffon Pilaf 


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onions, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • salt & freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup orzo pasta
  • 1 1/2 cups rice
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 2 pinches saffron threads
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 2 cups chicken stock or 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 lbs mussels, scrubbed and debearded
  • 1 cup peas, thawed if frozen
  • 1/3 cup grape tomatoes, quartered
  • 1/3 cup fresh parsley, chopped


  1. In a large skillet, heat the oil, over medium heat; add onions and cook until softened, about 2 minutes.
  2. Stir in garlic and season with salt and pepper.

  3. Add orzo pasta, increase heat slightly, then brown pasta, about 3 to 5 minutes.

  4. Stir in rice, turmeric, and saffron.

  5. Add wine and chicken stock, cover skillet, bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer until rice is al dente, about 10 minutes.

  6. Stir in mussels, peas, and tomatoes; cover and cook until shells open, about 8 to 10 minutes (discard any shells that do not open).

  7. Serve in shallow bowls, garnished with fresh parsley.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s