Mussels with tomatoes and white wine (appetizer or main dish)

Brining Mussels

By Cat, Feb 6, 2019 (photo, right, but Cat)

I love mussels as an appetizer or a meal. But invasive, non-native mussels are not good for the waters they invade. Here in Montana, we are doing all we can to keep invasive Quagga mussels from invading our pristine waters.

I first discovered this delicious mollusk as I was walking up Kearney Street in Portland OR, past a new Italian restaurant, where a sidewalk table of customers were being served steamed mussels. The aroma was amazing, and the contented look on the customers’ faces led me to another table there, so I could enjoy them too. Mmmm. So whenever I see a new recipe using mussels and wine, my nose is aroused.

See also: 1. Fish & Seafood Menu; 2. Live Clams & Mussels: Storage, Brining and Steaming

Mussels, with Tomatoes and White Wine

This recipe is adapted from an article in the Chicago Tribune, by Nick Kindelsperger (1). It serves 2 (as a main course), or more as an appetizer, and takes about 10 minutes for prep and 10 minutes to cook.

He does not specify the type of white wine; I prefer a dry white wine such as dry vermouth.

The original recipe uses canned, crushed tomatoes, but I prefer to crush fresh tomatoes using a food mill, that separates the desired pulp from the skin and seeds. Separating out the seeds is a good thing because they contain toxic lectins.

If not using the mussels right away, it is best to brine them; see Live Clams & Mussels: Storage, Brining and Steaming.

Ingredients & Equipment:

Food Mill (Moulinette)

  • 3 lb mussels (brined for storage if not using right away)
  • 1 cup crushed fresh organically-grown tomatoes (crushed in a food mill)
  • 1 yellow, sweet onion, sliced thinly
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ tsp Kosher, or unrefined sea salt
  • ¼ tsp red pepper flakes
  • ¼ tsp dried oregano or marjoram
  • ½ cup dry white wine, such as dry vermouth
  • Handful fresh parsley, chopped
  • Crusty bread, sliced (such as sourdough baguette or ciabatta), for serving
  • Equipment: 
  • Food mill (see photo, right, from Wikimedia Commons)
  • Large pot such as a saucier, stock pot, etc.


  1. Prep:
    • Rinse and scrub mussels under cold water. Remove beard from mussels, if necessary. Discard any mussels that won’t close if gently pressed.
    • Coarsely chop tomatoes, then crush using a food mill (see photo, above, right).
    • Slice onion, thinly; mince and press garlic and add to onion.
    • Chop parsley
  2. Heat olive oil in pot, over medium-low heat.
    • Sauté onion, garlic and salt until onion softens, about 5 minutes.
    • Add red pepper flakes and oregano/marjoram; cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
    • Add crushed tomatoes; cook until they have slightly thickened, 3 to 5 minutes.
    • Pour in wine.
  3. Increase heat to high, and bring mixture to a boil. Add prepped mussels, cover pot and cook, stirring every minute, until all the mussels have opened, 3 to 4 minutes. Discard any that don’t open.
  4. Turn off the heat; add the parsley.
  5. Divide mussels and liquid between two large bowls. Serve with crusty bread.


  1. Chicago Tribune article by Nick Kindelsperger: Valentine’s Day Seafood Feast:

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