Thanksgiving Mussels

As it so often goes, I created this recipe by accident and ended up with something my guests not only loved, but have demanded in subsequent years. While I've named them Thanksgiving Mussels, they are good on most any chilly autumn or winter evening. As always, tweak proportions as needed. The recipe below serves four.


- 2 pounds mussels (washed and scrubbed)
- 1/3 bottle red wine (something medium-bodied and dry, Cabernet will work well)
- 3/4 cup chopped red onion
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 2 12-ounce cans crushed tomatoes
- 1/3 box vermicelli or spaghetti noodles
- 2 Tbsp Italian seasoning (essentially a combination of oregano, rosemary, and thyme -- you could easily make your own)
- 1 cup freshly chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

In a medium saucepan, put water on to boil for pasta. Next, in a large pot add about 1 inch of water to steam the mussels (they should sit on a steamer that fits inside the pot, an inexpensive and useful item for your kitchen). Place over low heat and cover, it will not take long to heat up.

Next, in a medium skillet, add oil, onion and garlic on medium heat. Saute 5-7 minutes, until garlic and onion are fragrant but not browning. When ready, add tomatoes and wine. Reduce and allow to simmer, stirring occasionally.

And, when you can lift the top off the pot and see steam rising, it's ready for the first batch of mussels (cook them in two). Add them, then cover.

Your saucepan should be boiling -- add the pasta.

As the shellfish and pasta cook, add the Italian seasoning to the broth simmering in the skillet, continuing to stir occasionally. As mussels cook, they will open up -- this usually takes between 5-10 minutes. Remove cooked mussels with tongs and place in a large covered bowl to keep warm. When ready, add the second batch. Discard any mussels that do not open.

When pasta is done, drain and divvy between four serving bowls. Next, add mussels and top with broth. Finally, grate parmesan cheese atop each bowl and sprinkle with the parsley. Serve immediately with a cold white or sparkling wine.

Happy Thanksgiving :)


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