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Mussels in a spicy tomato sauce recipe

Mussels in a spicy tomato sauce recipe


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  • Recipes
  • Dish type
  • Starters
  • Seafood starters

For a light meal or lovely starter, simply add mussels to simmer (until opened) in this beautiful tomato sauce with butter, olive oil, garlic, shallots, capers, Italian seasoning and crushed chilli flakes, garnished with spring onions. Serve with fresh rocket salad and crusty bread for wiping up every last bit of sauce!

77 people made this

IngredientsServes: 4

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons minced shallots
  • 1 tablespoon capers
  • 700g passata
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed chilli flakes
  • 450g mussels, cleaned and debearded
  • 100g chopped spring onions

MethodPrep:20min ›Cook:25min ›Ready in:45min

  1. Melt butter in a frying pan over medium heat. Swirl olive oil into melted butter. Cook garlic, shallots and capers in oil and butter until shallots are translucent, about 5 minutes. Mix in passata, Italian seasoning and chilli flakes; stir until well incorporated. Cover and reduce heat to medium-low; allow to simmer for 10 minutes.
  2. Add mussels to the pan and cover tightly. Raise heat to medium high and cook until all mussels have opened, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat, garnish with chopped spring onions to serve. Discard any unopened mussels.

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Reviews & ratingsAverage global rating:(90)

Reviews in English (68)

by Therese Peters Johnson

Delicious! My husband and I made this and served it over linguine. The sauce is just awesome-capers add a touch of salt and the red pepper gives it a nice kick. I added some white wine before I put the mussels in the pot. This is a new favorite! Thanks.-12 Jan 2009

by amber

Excellent dish! I especially enjoyed dipping some toasted bread in the sauce. I didn't have capers so I substituted chopped dill pickles and it worked out great.-17 Dec 2007

by angeleke18

These were great and absolutely delicious. I found when I made them there was not a lot of sauce, not sure if it was me or the recipe. Next time I may try to make extra sauce.-09 Mar 2010


Mussels in Spicy Tomato Broth

Mussels are a steal compared to most fresh seafood options, and cook in practically no time at all—a weeknight dinner dream. Be sure to buy rope-grown mussels, which require a lot less cleaning and are virtually free of grit, and always check each individual bivalve to make sure it's closed tightly before cooking—it's a little tedious, but one dead mussel will ruin the whole pot.

All products featured on Bon Appétit are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy something through the retail links below, we earn an affiliate commission.


Recipe Summary

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons minced shallots
  • 1 tablespoon capers
  • 3 cups canned tomato sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 pound mussels, cleaned and debearded
  • 1 cup chopped green onions

Melt butter in a skillet over medium heat. Swirl olive oil into melted butter. Cook garlic, shallots, and capers in oil and butter until shallots are translucent, about 5 minutes. Mix in tomato sauce, Italian seasoning, and red pepper flakes stir until well incorporated. Cover and reduce heat to medium-low allow to simmer for 10 minutes.

Add mussels to the pan and cover tightly. Raise heat to medium-high and cook until all mussels have opened, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat, garnish with chopped green onions to serve. Discard any unopened mussels.


How to Make Mussels, Pasta, and this Spicy Tomato Sauce

Although it is an easy and quick recipe, you will need to use 3 pots: one for the sauce, one for the mussels, and one for the pasta. Sorry about that to whoever will be doing the dishes, but this pasta is totally worth it! Please see the recipe card below for exact measurements, instructions, and nutritional information.

Preparing the Mussels:

  • Before you start cooking your dish I’d suggest placing the mussels in a bowl with ice water and let them soak for about 20 minutes, before scrubbing them. This will let the sand from the mussels fall to the bottom of the bowl.
  • Any of your live mussels that happen to be open and don’t close to the touch, should be discarded.
  • Right before cooking the mussels, remove them from the water, scrub with a brush and remove any beards.

Making the Spicy Tomato Sauce:

  • In a deep pan or a dutch oven, saute chopped onions with some olive oil, minced garlic, chili paper flakes, and fresh thyme, for about 5 minutes.
  • Add Cherry Tomatoes and Yellow Whole Peeled Tomatoes with their juices to the pan.
  • Add a teaspoon of salt and sugar and a little bit of freshly grounded pepper. Cover the pot and let cook for 20 minutes.

Cooking the Mussels:

  • In a dutch oven or heavy-duty pot with a cover, combine white wine, chopped onions, crushed garlic, and bring it to boil.
  • Add mussels and cover it up. Cook for 2-4 minutes, until all the mussels have opened. After the first 2 minutes remove the mussels that opened up and place them in a bowl cover the pot and let the mussels cook for couple more minutes. Any unopened mussels should be discarded.
  • Once all the mussels are in a bowl, let them cool off slightly. Once they’re cool enough to handle, remove about 2/3 of the mussels from the shells and leave the rest in the shells.

Cooking Pasta

Cook your Bucatini according to instructions. Reserve a cup of pasta water and drain the rest once the pasta is cooked.

Assembling the Pasta with Mussels in Spicy Tomato Sauce

It’s best to use a big pot or big bowl to mix the dish together (the pot from cooking the pasta would work).

  • Check tomato sauce for seasoning and adjust with salt and pepper as needed
  • Add the mussels which were removed from shells to the spicy tomato sauce, and gently fold them in
  • Add Bucatini to the pot or bowl, cover with sauce and gently mix together if the sauce is too thick then add a little bit of your pasta water
  • Transfer the pasta dish to a serving plate or pan (I like using my cast-iron skillet for the rustic effect). Add your in-shell mussels on top and sprinkle with some chopped parsley for an outstanding looking dish, and serve.
Slightly cool off cooked mussels and remove 2/3 from shells. Add to tomato sauce. Add pasta to the sauce and mix all. Then add remaining mussels.


Making the Tomato Sauce

This hearty tomato sauce has a lot going on, but to cut down on the cooking time, I’d recommend using a jarred marinara sauce rather than starting with canned tomatoes, which would require a longer simmer time to break down.

If you want to make a sauce from scratch, however, by all means go for it. Our basic tomato sauce should work great. You’re going to be adding to it, anyway!

Start the sauce with some bacon in a skillet and the fat will start to melt. Then add the garlic, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper, and cook for a minute.

Deglaze your pan with wine (or you can use vegetable or seafood stock) to scrape up any bits stuck to the pan and pour in the marinara. Bring the marinara mixture to a simmer and simmer for 5 minutes over low heat.

Once the sauce has simmered, add all your cleaned mussels, cover the skillet, and let them steam for five minutes until they have all opened. Any mussels that haven’t opened after five minutes should be discarded.


Mussels in Spicy Tomato Sauce

If you subscribe to my Monthly Newsletter, you know my oven has been broken for more than a month now. Parts for my discontinued range are hard to come by, and even though internal parts are sometimes interchangeable between makes and models, the pandemic has added another wrinkle by greatly limiting the availability of parts that contain a microchip. Thankfully my stove top still works so we’re not starving. All this to say, I’ve been very uninspired as far as recipe development goes. I’ve either been cooking very basic things that aren’t worthy of being shared, or I’ve made things that are already published here on the blog which is why you haven’t heard much from me lately…

BUT all that changes today as I share my personal recipe for Mussels with Spicy Tomato Sauce, which happens to be one of my youngest daughter’s favorite meals. Seriously, it’s one of those recipes where nobody talks at the dinner table because they’re all too busy stuffing their faces and making scrummy, nummy, yummy noises as they eat. Yes, it’s that delicious!

Serve the recipe alone with lots of crusty bread to soak up all the delicious sauce, or serve it over a bowl of pasta. Check out the “Notes” section below the recipe to find out how many pounds of mussels you need per person, as well as lots of other helpful tips.

Another thing to consider - this recipe is a little involved so you might want to save it for a weekend. If you must have it on a weeknight, you can streamline the process by chopping all the veggies and making the sauce 5 or 6 days ahead (be sure to store in airtight containers as there’s a lot of onion and garlic that could perfume the inside of your refrigerator!).

To make the sauce, gather all your ingredients (ignore the sliced garlic - it won’t be needed until we cook the mussels). I purchase my pancetta already diced, and I use a press for my garlic, but the onions require a bit more effort as they need to be very finely minced. I really think finely minced is the way to go here - the pieces should be small enough that they enhance the texture and body of the sauce - you can’t achieve that with larger pieces of onion (click on the photo of ingredients to get a better look at how finely minced the onions are).

In a 3 or 4-quart saucepan over medium-high heat, saute the olive oil, onions, pancetta, garlic, oregano, crushed red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper together for several minutes until the onions soften and become translucent in color.

Add the tomato paste and saute for another minute or two. I love tomato paste that comes in a tube, and I especially love storing the tube in a tube squeezer. It’s so fun to twist out the exact amount of paste I need.

Now add the white wine, crushed tomatoes, and a whole sprig of basil. Simmer for about 30 minutes and set aside until needed. On its own, this sauce is the bomb, but just wait until we add all the yumminess still to come. Oh my!!

Now for the mussels. Soak them in cool water for 15 minutes, then scrub and rinse them, discarding any that are broken or open ones that don’t close within a minute or so of tapping against the shell. If you find any “beards” attached, pull them off using your thumb and the edge of a sharp knife (or use a clean pair of tweezers).

To cook the mussels, heat the olive oil, finely minced onions, and crushed red pepper flakes over medium-high heat for several minutes until the onions are translucent. Then add the sliced garlic and saute for 1 minute.

Immediately stir in the white wine and bring to a boil reduce liquid by half.

Stir the full tomato sauce recipe into the reduced oil/wine mixture stir to combine. Stir in the cleaned mussels, being sure to coat well with the sauce (it’s okay if some mussels are submerged under the sauce).

Cover the Dutch oven and allow mussels to cook for 4-5 minutes uncover and stir to be sure they’re all open. Discard any mussels that fail to open after cooking. Sprinkle liberally with chopped fresh parsley and serve immediately over pasta or with lots of crust bread. See notes below to how to store and reheat leftovers.


Using the Best Local Ingredients

Local Salt Spring Island Mussels are the star of this recipe and are tossed in a spicy tomato and white wine sauce. I always buy my mussels from Finest At Sea since they are always guaranteed to be fresh and flavourful!

Since this recipe has so few ingredients, I use the best ingredients that I can, including San Marzano tomatoes, good quality olive oil from Clemente Olive Oil, and of course fresh basil and parsley.

I also paired this recipe with Quill Off Dry White Wine from Blue Grouse Estate Winery, a local winery here in Vancouver Island. The wine pairs perfectly with the mussels and chilis and is great to serve chilled alongside the Spicy Mussels in Tomato Sauce.


Spicy Mussels in Tomato Sauce

Are you looking for something a little different the next time you eat? Mussels are an excellent choice if you’re looking for a change of pace from your typical Paleo meals. They are high in protein, zinc, B-12, and plenty of other vitamins and minerals. This spicy mussels in tomato sauce recipe is perfect for lunch or a light dinner.

Before serving be sure to discard any mussels that don’t open. Enjoy!

Author: Lorrie Cordain
Difficulty: Intermediate
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Serves: 4

  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
  • 3 tbsp coconut oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 4 vine-rip tomatoes, rough chopped (you want them chunky)
  • 2 parsnips, peeled and rough chopped (you want them chunky)
  • 1 bunch kale
  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • 1 ½ c unsalted sodium chicken stock
  • 2-3 lbs fresh mussels, scrubbed and debearded
  1. In a large saucepan or Dutch oven, cook the onions in coconut oil over medium heat until soft, about 5 minutes.
  2. Increase heat to medium high and add parsnips, cook until lightly browned, about 4 minutes.
  3. Add the garlic and cook 2 – 3 additional minutes.
  4. Add tomato paste, cayenne pepper & red pepper flakes, cook for 2-3 minutes.
  5. Add tomatoes and kale until kale wilts, about 2-3 minutes.
  6. Add stock and mussels, cover and cook for 4-5 minutes, stirring once or twice to ensure mussels open and everything is coated evenly.

For hundreds of pure Paleo recipes be sure to check out The Real Paleo Diet Cookbook and The Real Paleo Diet Fast and Easy.

Lorrie Cordain co-founded The Paleo Diet alongside her husband, Dr. Loren Cordain.


Mussel Pasta In Spicy Tomato Sauce

This recipe for pasta with mussels in spicy tomato sauce is a perfect example of a dish that is greatly enhanced by the quality of the wine used to cook it. Fresh mussels are steamed open in a garlicky Prophecy Sauvignon Blanc–infused broth, which is used to build the spicy tomato sauce. The light citrus notes in the wine lend an unexpected and totally craveable brightness to the sauce.

The best part about this recipe? Not only can you use Prophecy Sauvignon Blanc, but you can also pour a cold glass of the same wine to pair perfectly with the pasta. The hints of citrus in the tomato sauce are accentuated by pairing it with a glass of Prophecy Sauvignon Blanc, with its undertones of grapefruit and lime zest. Enjoy!

Brought to you by our friends at Prophecy Wine.

Mussel Pasta In Spicy Tomato Sauce

  • Prep Time: 25 minutes
  • Cook Time: 45 minutes
  • Level of Difficulty: Easy
  • Serving Size: 4

Ingredients

  • 4 large garlic cloves, 1 crushed, 2 minced
  • 1 cup Prophecy Sauvignon Blanc
  • 2 pounds mussels, rinsed and scrubbed
  • 3 tablespoons good olive oil, divided
  • 2 14.5-ounce cans diced, peeled tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons red chili flakes
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • 3 tablespoons fresh parsley or basil, finely chopped

Directions

For the pasta

Add crushed garlic clove and Prophecy Sauvignon Blanc to a wide saucepan and bring to a boil. Add mussels, cover and cook for 4 minutes, or until mussels open up. Transfer all open mussels to a bowl. Discard all mussels that did not open. Strain ½ cup of the mussel broth and reserve.

When the mussels are cool enough to handle, remove 1/2 from their shells and transfer to a small bowl. Leave the rest of the mussels intact. Set aside while you cook the tomato sauce and pasta.

Heat olive oil over medium in a large pan. Add minced garlic and cook until fragrant. Add the tomatoes, the reserved mussel broth and the chili flakes and simmer for 15-20 minutes, uncovered. Season with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, bring a pot of water to a rolling boil and season generously with salt. Cook your pasta al dente, following the package directions. Drain the pasta and return it to the pot.

Pour the warm tomato sauce over the pasta, add the mussel meat (without shells), and toss gently until all pasta is coated in sauce. Divide the pasta between 4 bowls, top with intact (shell on) mussels and garnish with extra-virgin olive oil and fresh herbs. Enjoy immediately!


Mussels in a Spicy Tomato Sauce

"This recipe for Mussels in a Spicy Tomato Sauce really takes this shellfish to another level. The combination of ingredients in this dish brings out the perfect balance in flavor and texture, and it´s a great starter or appetizer to any meal. The secret to this recipe is to buy FRESH mussels, I say fresh in capital letters because you do not want to use frozen or pre-cooked mussels in this dish, otherwise it won´t have that special and fresh flavor to it."

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