Mussels With White Wine And Tomato Broth

There are some people who like their mussels with a white wine and garlic broth, no tomatoes needed. I am not one of these people. Some people are daunted by cooking shellfish. I used to be one of these people. But, as I've found through experimentation, shellfish are surprisingly easy to make, and best of all, they tell you when they're done! (Not literally, Stacy:) Make sure to buy the mussels the day you plan to make them, from a reputable fishmonger. Mussels should be bright black and shiny and appear smooth with no blemishes or barnacling; they should, of course, also be closed tight!

Before they're ready to throw in the pot, I rinse them several times with cold water so they expunge any remnant dirt, and I scrub them with a specially designated sponge as I de-beard…this step (the scrubbing), is more due to my OCD than to any serious necessity because most mussels are grown and farmed in nets that never touch the bottom of the sea (I saw the mussel fisherman working on a cruise one summer on Prince Edward Island—it was cool!) PEI mussels are generally the best, of course, and so if you notice them in your local supermarket be sure to buy them! To make this a substantial dinner for two, cook two pounds of mussels and get a loaf of bread for dipping.


3-4 cloves garlic, chopped
olive oil
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 can diced tomatoes, drained
2 tbs. tomato paste
Fresh herbs (like basil, oregano, parsley)—any one of these will do, or why not add two or three?
1-2 lbs. mussels, washed and "de-bearded" (generally, you need about a pound a person)
hot pepper
lemon and parsley, to garnish


In very large skillet with lid, saute garlic until fragrant, add wine, tomatoes and herbs and tomato paste and simmer for 20 minutes. You can also substitute fresh tomatoes and a pinch of sugar if you're feeling randy. Add the mussels and hot pepper and put the lid on the pan, cooking for only 2 or so minutes. Using tongs, remove the mussels from the pot as they open up and place in large bowl. After all mussels have opened, discard any that are still closed and pour the sauce over those delicious little guys. Squeeze lemon over and add parsley if you want to impress someone.

Note: You may note that your home-made mussels are more tender and moist than restaurant mussels. Do not fear; as long as they have opened in the hot liquid they are cooked and may be eaten. Most restaurants just overcook their mussels, making them more rubbery than succulent, so the true nature of the mussel might initially shock you. But you will never go back.




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