Let’s talk about muscles, errr…I mean mussels. Mussels have the most pronounced flavor of the bivalves (i.e. clams, oysters, scallops, geoducks, mussels). Because of their pronounced flavor many people don’t like mussels preferring, instead, clams, scallops and oysters. We like mussels but we like almost all seafood. This recipe is a wonderful dish and very versatile in its use.
Did you know that mussels are a hardy animal? In fact, they are one of the most abundant mollusks. They live almost everywhere in the world from the boreal waters to the tropics, saltwater and freshwater and numerous varieties. Blue mussels are the variety that is sold widely in grocery stores and fish markets in the US. Although you can find the New Zealand green lipped mussels periodically at some point in the recent past someone (perhaps that diabolical, worldly nemesis Conor Bofin in his attempt to ensure the lower prices of beef short ribs – Economic warning – DO NOT cook beef short ribs on a bed of garlic served with red wine reduction and celeriac mash) labeled these mussels a “superfood.” Once the superfood label attached the mad rush for New Zealand green lipped mussels began. Now you see green lipped mussel extract and other supplements that will work wonders – don’t worry about the rest of your diet, exercise or health habits. The superfood label along with the fact that New Zealand Greenshell mussel industry operates within some of the strictest quality standards in the world has resulted in the green lipped mussels being much more difficult to find and pricey. It’s a shame, too, because they are beautiful creatures and incredibly tasty. Nonetheless, I digress and must get back to what we have available – blue mussels.
Blue mussels have smooth, equally-shaped, bluish-black “D” shaped shells that are linked together on one side by a hinge. Like other mussels, blue mussels are now being farmed as a sustainable food, especially in Maine because the cold waters of the north Atlantic provide the ideal habitat for blue mussels. The beauty of cultured mussels is they do not touch the ocean bottom but instead, because they are filter feeders, feed off the nutrient-rich water that surrounds them. They are plumper, more tender, have thinner shells, taste sweeter and yield a higher amount of meat than wild blue mussels. They are also free of the grit that you find with wild mussels harvested from the ocean floor. Further, through farming techniques, cultured blue mussels are available year round. Inasmuch as we like mussels, year round availability is a really good thing. 🙂
Typically, you find cultured mussels in plastic mesh bags weighing 2 pounds. They have been de-bearded and are ready for your purchase for roughly US$ 9/bag. They cook quickly, are versatile and are perfect for a weeknight meal. This recipe is wonderful as an appetizer, on its own with a little bread, or served atop pasta, whichever if you prefer. On its own with bread, it will serve 6 very easily. Served with pasta it will serve 12. Whatever you do, give this dish a try.
- 4 lbs mussels
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 16 cloves garlic, sliced
- 2 pts grape tomatoes, halved
- 25 oz can crushed tomatoes
- 2 tsp dried oregano
- 2 tsp red pepper flakes
- 2 cups dry white wine
- 2 cup basil, shredded
- sea salt, to taste
Heat olive oil in large pot. Add the garlic.
Sauté until golden brown.
Add grape tomatoes
Saute until soft. Add crushed tomatoes.
Add red pepper and oregano.
Cook for 5 minutes. Add the white wine.
Bring to a boil, then add the mussels.
Cover and cook until mussels are open, roughly 3 – 5 minutes. When mussels have opened, stir in basil.
Adjust seasoning. Pour into a serving bowl.
Serve & enjoy!
26 thoughts on “Mussels in a Spicy Tomato Sauce”
Only one word describes it…YUM!
Thanks, Joy. We’re glad you liked it. 🙂
You’ve created a masterpiece here, Richard, and a perfect meal for me. I love these little bi-valves and am just as likely to serve this dish over pasta as I am to serve is as you did. Either way, you’re serving up a delicious treat. Thanks!
Hi, John. Glad you liked it. We couldn’t eat all the mussels but it made for a great leftover the next day – another post. 🙂
Great post! And not as spicy as I feared when I read the title (I was expecting at least 1 lb of a variety of chiles… LOL) We love mussels too and eat them mostly over pasta. Your recipe reminds me of a recipe for vongole (Italian small clams) but mussels can properly handle the bold flavors even better.
I remember seeing green lip mussels in NZ but don’t remember what they taste like. Here only available frozen, so I’ll stick to locally farmed regular mussels.
Thanks, Stefan. No chiles, other than the dried ones, in this recipe. Of course, Baby Lady had to add another 1/2 tsp of red pepper flakes to her dish individually. 😉
Lovely stuff indeed Richard. Living just on the coast on an Island where just about everywhere is no more than 50 miles from the sea, getting fresh mussels is not a problem. I have never seen or heard of the New Zealand Green Lips before. If you like I can do a post on some other superfood and influence the online community with my banter. That should see world prices of New Zealand Green Lips collapse and some sanity restored to the McGary household.
By the way, the concept of myself as a “diabolical, worldly nemesis” appeals greatly.
Hi, Conor. Glad you liked the recipe and being the “diabolical, worldly nemesis” attempting to control the price of food. 🙂
Looks and sounds FABULOUS, Richard! We love mussels, too.
Thanks, Peggy. We’re glad you liked it.
This looks incredible!
Thanks, Mimi. It was absolutely delicious. 🙂
I love mussels! One of the grocery stores in my former neighborhood used to have mussels for a bit under $4/lb and you could just ask for how many you wanted for a meal. I used to go during their seafood receiving days a lot as the freshest they are, the better they taste 😉
Hi, Andreea. Mussels for under $4/lb is a steal and fresh, to boot. What a treat. Baby Lady is very envious. All we get is what is flown in but it’s definitely better than frozen or nothing at all
I know what I am having for dinner tonight! Fresh green lipped mussels in spicy tomato sauce from New Zealand eaten in New Zealand! There will be no leftovers 🙂 I think I need to get bread to mop up the sauce too. Sigh.
You know, I’m very jealous of you. 😉
Those pictures are flirting with my taste buds!
Thanks, GiGi. This is very much a taste sensation. 🙂
So tempting! Another mussel recipe for me to try. I do prefer them in a slightly spicy broth or sauce so this is right up my alley!
Thanks, Debjani. So you like spicy?? I have a post coming soon that you should really love – Cream of Red Chile Soup. You can make it as spicy as you want. 🙂
Looking forward! 🙂
Oh this looks delicious! I love mussels. I shared a post about cockles on my blog earlier (http://bekoskitchen.wordpress.com/2012/08/21/cockles-in-a-spicy-sauce/). Your recipe looks delicious and I will totally try to cook it next time I buy mussels.
Thanks for dropping by and your nice compliment.