Mussels in Red Sauce

Some like red and some like white…so I’ll give you both.

The easy way to make either, is to make the sauce first in a big saucepan and plop the mussels in, cover and cook until they open.

Top with fresh slivered herbs such as basil, parley, oregano or if you want to try something a bit different try some finely chopped tarragon for a licorice flavor; slivered lemon verbena for a lemony tang or even some finely diced fresh ginger.

Serve with some crusty bread that you can make by cutting a baguette in half and brushing them with oil in which I sautéd a mix of finely chopped garlic  and herbs (basil/parley/oregano) and placed under the broiler. Perfect for dipping into the broth – red or white.

Garlic & Herb Bread

Just remember that garlic burns quickly in hot oil so don’t leave the pan unattended. Simply place about 1/4 cup of oil in a small 7″ sauté pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and herbs and cook for about 1 minute or less – just until the garlic begins to turn color and remove immediately. It’ll continue to cook a bit even when the pan is off the heat.

Easy enough, right?


For the Red Sauce

1/4 cup of olive oil (or just enough to cover the bottom of a large (4 quart or more saucepan)

2 cloves of fresh garlic-  finely chopped

2 tablespoons of fresh ginger – finely chopped (optional)

a pinch or two of red pepper flakes (more if you want it spicy)

1/2 batch of my tomato sauce (or about 2 cups of crushed tomatoes)

Splash of red wine

1/2 cup of watered down chicken broth (for vegetarians, just use water)

Season with salt and pepper to taste


Put a large saucepan (4 quarts or more) over medium heat. Add the garlic, ginger and pepper flakes and cook for about 1 minute or just until the garlic begins to color. Follow immediate with the tomato sauce or crushed tomatoes. Add the wine and the broth and cook until the mixture comes to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and cook for an additional 5 minutes or until the strong wine taste has evaporated.

Note however that if you’re using canned crushed tomatoes the total cooking time for the sauce will be about 30 minutes or until the raw tomato taste is cooked through and sweet.

Add the bag of mussels (usually comes in about a 2 1/2 lb bag); but first clean them by placing them in a large bowl with cold water. Examine each one for broken shells. Throw these out. Any open shells?  See if they close when prodded with your finger to shut. If they stay open, throw these out too. Next pull off any beards (hairy stuff) sticking out of the shells. When you’ve checked each one, rinse under cold water and drain.

Cover and cook until they open (about 5 minutes)

Place in a big bowl, top with the fresh chopped herbs of your choice and a hunk of crusty bread and serve.


For the White Sauce

1/2 cup of olive oil

3 tablespoons flour

1/4 cup white wine

1 cup watered down chicken broth (for vegetarians use veggie broth or water)

2 cloves fresh garlic – finely chopped

Pinch or two of red pepper flakes

2 pats butter

Juice of 1/2 lemon

Place a large (4 quarts or more) saucepan over medium/high heat. Add the garlic and pepper flakes and cook until the garlic begins to color (about a minute or less) Add the flour and stir to make a roux. Cook for about a minute and add the wine. This will make it thicken. Add the broth, stirring to incorporate. Bring the sauce to a boil, lower the heat and cook about 10 minutes or until the raw flour and strong wine taste is no longer present. Squeeze in the fresh lemon juice, add the butter, season with salt and pepper and stir.

Add the cleaned mussels (see above) cover and cook until they open. Top with your choice of herbs and serve with crusty baguette.


[quote style=”boxed”]Mussels in red or white broth? Why choose? Have both. Click to Tweet[/quote]


And as always, I want to know what you think. Talk to me below.


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