Mussels love tomatoes! Try mussels in tomato sauce for an easy weeknight meal.
I don’t recall eating mussels until we came to Spain, where they’re called mejillones. They’re fabulous! Every grocery store carries them in one form or another…fresh (on ice), frozen, canned and prepared. Mussels are cultivated in Spain and are considered a sustainable type of seafood. It takes between a year and fifteen months for mussels to reach marketable size.
If you buy fresh mussels you’ll need to clean them. Give them a rinse and use a brush or knife to remove any barnacles, dirt and the “beard.” The beard is called a “byssus” and is used by the mussel to anchor it in place. (See the Wiki for more information) After cleaning the mussels, put them in a shallow pan of water if you think they may be gritty. You may see them open and close as they expel any sand. If you purchase live mussels, get rid of any that don’t close when you disturb them and cook them within a day or two of purchase. Store them in an open container in the fridge with a damp towel over top. (More info from The Kitchn)
The most common method of cooking mussels is to steam them, but they can be steamed in just about any liquid, including tomato sauce. They should take about five minutes to cook. When you’re ready to serve, discard any mussels that haven’t opened to be safe.
We bought a pound for our mussels in tomato sauce which worked out to about 17 mussels for two people. You may want to purchase more for your family. Use your favorite tomato sauce to cook your mussels in and supplement with more herbs as desired. Figure 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup per person when measuring the sauce.
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 small bell pepper, chopped
- 1 - 2 tomatoes, seeded and chopped (about a cup)
- 2 - 3 cups tomato sauce
- pinch red pepper flake
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme (optional)
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano (optional)
- salt and pepper to taste
- olive oil
- 1 - 2 pounds mussels, prepared for cooking (enough for four people)
- pasta for four people
- Bring a pot of water to a boil for the pasta.
- Add a pinch of red pepper flakes to a couple tablespoons of olive oil.
- Saute the onions and peppers over medium high heat.
- When softened stir in the tomato sauce and chopped tomatoes. Add additional seasoning as desired.
- Add the pasta when the water begins to boil. Reduce the heat under the sauce to a simmer.
- Add the mussels to the sauce when the pasta is ready. Cover the mussels and sauce, then drain the pasta.
- The mussels should be cooked after 5 minutes. Discard any that don't open.
- Serve over pasta along with some bread to soak up the sauce and a bowl to collect the empty mussel shells.
This is the first in a series of seafood posts to be featured during the season of Lent when many Christian families avoid eating meat. Year round, seafood can be an excellent, low calorie source of protein and fatty acids. It’s recommended to consume two servings per week. To help make good choices when purchasing seafood, there’s a group called Seafood Watch that was established to help consumers select fish. You’ll find their guide here which will help guide you into making sustainable seafood choices whenever possible.