Mussels in tomato white wine sauce is one of my mother's favorite dishes. We always ordered a tray of mussels from Gino's Pizzeria in Massapequa every Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve. I can't recall for sure, but I think mussels might be the first seafood that I actually enjoyed.
This 30-minute mussels recipe is so easy and delicious. It can be used in a variety of different ways, whether it be served alone or over pasta. As long as you serve it with a big loaf of Italian bread, you can't go wrong.
Eating and trying fish was something that my dad and mom always tried to get us to do but never could. Forcing people to eat shellfish was basically a right of passage in our home. It's sort of messed up. Eating fresh clams would give me hair on my chest, I was always told. Well, Dad, I didn't eat seafood back then, and now I have a hairy chest and a bald head.
I think seafood, especially shellfish, is an acquired taste. It's something people don't grow up with when they don't live by the ocean. Just being around it for years and years finally got me to the stage of trying it. Even then, it took a while to know what I liked and didn't like. I'll try anything nowadays, but I still dislike certain seafood, swordfish, or tuna steaks. Those just aren't for me.
Mussels in a Tomato White Wine sauce is a very mild flavor and a good introduction to shellfish. Even if you don't try the mussels, you can dip bread into the sauce, and start becoming accustomed to the taste.
A Little Mussel Information
Most mussels are farm-raised. That's okay. Wild mussels have a lot of grit and if they are harvested from certain areas, like the California coast, they aren't safe to eat during certain parts of the year. They are indiscriminate eaters, meaning they'll eat anything, even if it is toxic or in polluted waters. This can make them unsafe for our consumption. It's always better to go with a rope-grown, farm-raised mussel.
The wild mussels also will have a lot of grit and sand, because they live on the ocean floor. They have to be purged A LOT, to remove all the sand and stuff you don't want falling out into your tomato white wine sauce.
Both mussels, farm-raised and wild, can have beards. It's the hairy little growth on the edge of the shell. This should be removed by holding tightly between your thumb and forefinger, and ripping it out of the shell. Both types of mussels should be scrubbed before cooking, either with your hands, or a clean brush.
Throw away any open or broken shells. These mussels are dead and could go bad very quickly. Only cook mussels that have a closed shell.
Tomato White Wine Sauce
A good base sauce to steam the mussels in provides them with an unbelievable taste. Start the sauce by heating extra virgin olive oil over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, stir in the chopped shallots and allow them to saute for 5 minutes or until they become translucent.
Then stir in the crushed red pepper and garlic allowing the garlic to become fragrant. While the garlic is sauteing, place a tablespoon of tomato paste off to the side. Let the tomato paste cook separately from the garlic and shallots. Allowing it to cook first will intensify the tomato flavor in the dish. Once the garlic is fragrant, stir the tomato paste together with the garlic and shallots.
Add in the cherry tomatoes, oregano, and salt. Let the tomatoes break down for about 3 to 5 minutes, long enough so the skins fall off easily. Pour in the white wine and parsley and bring it to a simmer. Simmer for 5 minutes. Once the saw is slightly thickened, add in water and mussels. Cover the pan and steam them for 3-5 minutes.
When you open the pan after 3 minutes, most of the mussels should have opened, but if not stir and cover for another 2 minutes. Remember, the mussels are only cooked thoroughly when they open.
Remove from the heat and baste the mussels in the sauce. Stir and ladle the sauce over the top of the mussels. Garnish them with parsley.
What should you serve Mussels in Tomato White Wine Sauce with?
I love mussels because they can be a standalone dish. Growing up, we would have a whole tray of these out on the holidays, from appetizers through dinner. It's something you would add to your plate anytime you got up to fill it. The sauce is nice and light and can be sopped up with a loaf of Italian bread.
This is also a dish that can be served over angel hair pasta as a full meal. The white wine sauce is perfect for delicate pasta. If served over pasta, double the sauce recipe and remove the mussels from the sauce after steaming. Then stir the pasta into the sauce after boiling. Return the mussels to the pot and serve.
If you're looking for more seafood recipes, try our baked clams, shrimp fra diavolo, or garlic anchovy pasta. If it's just something Italian that you're interested in, try the carbonara or spicy vodka sauce.
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Mussels in Tomato White Wine Sauce
- 2 pounds Mussels
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 shallot, chopped
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 1 cup white wine
- ½ cup water
- 2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Rinse and debeard your mussels. Most farm-raised mussels will come already debearded, but it's good to check. Throw away any open or cracked shells.
- In a large saucepan, add olive oil, and bring to medium heat. Stir in your shallots, and saute until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add in garlic, crushed red pepper, and oregano and stir. Once the garlic becomes fragrant, about 1 minute, add in the tomato paste, cherry tomatoes, and salt. Allow the cherry tomatoes to cook down for about 3 minutes, stirring often.
- Once the cherry tomatoes start to break down add 1 cup of wine and fresh parsley. Bring the wine to a simmer and allow it to reduce until it's about half of what it started with. When a spoon is dragged through it, the liquid will lazily close the gap.
- Add in the water and the mussels and cover for 3-5 minutes. Leave it on a low simmer. When you open the pan, the mussels should have opened. Stir the mussels and baste them in the sauce. Remove from the heat and serve hot. Garnish with Parsley