Monday, September 3, 2012

Mussels with Fennel, Garlic, and Tomatoes

        Friday afternoon the girls and I met some of our friends for a beach playdate. The kids dug holes in the sand and splashed in the waves, but their favorite part of the afternoon was looking through a big piece of kelp. 
B (4.5) was ecstatic to find a tiny brittle star, some sand crabs, and a mussel. (excuse the iphone photography) She was completely fascinated by the mussel and wanted to take it home and cook it.  After much discussion, she agreed it would be better to get some local mussels from Whole Foods the next day. And she didn't forget about it either. Saturday morning she woke up and the first thing she asked was, "Can we get my mussels NOW?" We got our mussels and decided that we would steam them in a broth with garlic, fennel, and the super sweet cherry tomatoes we can't get enough of right now. 
  I had forgotten how easy, quick, and economical mussels are to cook. After a few short minutes steaming in our flavorful broth the shells had opened. It's kind of a magical thing for a 4 year old who has tried and tried to pry mussels open to watch. 

Now for the bad news: B took one bite and said, "Yuck! I don't like mussels!" My exasperation was cut short however, by L (2) who had fun pulling the meat from the shells and loved them.  I felt even better when Yummy Hubby, who has been working 24/7 all week and weekend, came home for lunch and enthusiastically devoured the mussels tossed with spaghetti. Even if B isn't a fan of mussels (yet) cooking them was a great learning experience for her, and was a delicious lunch for the rest of us.

Mussels with Fennel, Garlic, and Tomatoes 
Serves 4 when tossed with spaghetti, or 2 just in the broth 

1 cup fish or vegetable stock
2 tablespoons butter 
1 cup thinly sliced fennel
1 cup cherry tomatoes, or diced red tomatoes 
4 cloves garlic, minced  
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 pounds live mussels
2 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley

In a large pot or Dutch oven set over medium high heat, bring stock, buttter, fennel, tomatoes, garlic, salt and pepper, to a simmer. Add mussels, toss with the broth mixture, and cover. Simmer for 3-5 minutes, until the shells open. Discard any mussels that do not open. Sprinkle with parsley. Serve alone with some crusty bread or garlic flatbread, or tossed with 1lb spaghetti cooked al dente in salted water.

More great mussels recipes:

Mussels in Tomato-Wine Broth by Cooking Light
Healthy Mussels Recipes from Eating Well
Spicy Coconut Mussels from NY Times
Steamed Mussels Trieste Style from Lidia's Italy


  1. What a scrumptious dish, I love these flavors!

  2. WOW this looks so good, might have to make it for dinner tonight. My boys love them too!

  3. I have never even TRIED mussels:( I definitely need to get more adventurous!

  4. I can't believe it - we must be on the same wave length! I just cooked mussels last night - but not with pasta - yours looks and sounds SO delicious - aren't they a treat!
    Mary x

  5. So easy, fast and usually a good price. My daughter absolutely loves them along with clams,

  6. I really enjoy getting glimpses of life in CA. That meal looks absolutely delicious!

  7. Spagetti alle vongole is my all-time favorite dish in Italy -- this is like the Cali take on it - LOVE it! And I always love seeing your photos of SB. Aren't we so blessed to have gotten to grow up there {and now you get to raise your girls there}!?

  8. Mussels are my favorite and this combo looks super!

  9. I love everything about this dish. I light pasta with seafood, and garlic is fresh, tastiness to me. Just lovely. Here in the Northwest you can get a fish licence and pick the mussels off of the rocks legally! Any sort of seafood like crabs, clam, and oysters are all up for grabs. It is wondrous!

  10. Marina-
    Bon jour from France!

    Will definitely try this recipe. My kids enjoy mussels, and we are located near the Mediterranean (ample supply). This looks like a dish I would find at a nearby restaurant, in fact.

    Love to read your slice of Santa Barbara life when I get homesick!


  11. that looks like one amazing pasta dish and I love the use of the mussels in it. can't go wrong with garlic and tomatoes!

  12. Marina, this meal looks fantastic, especially presented on a beautiful Deruta plate. I love mussels with pasta, and was thinking of making one tonight. But then I had a request from my teenager to make him pasta with some meat... Well, I don't know what it is going to be, but definitely some pasta: the dough is resting already... :) Come see my picnic... :)

  13. That is too funny! Sophia did the same thing when David came home with lobsters. She loved the anticipation of it all, but after a bite it was a no go for her. But Kalista devoured it. : )

  14. This looks crazy amazing

  15. Great minds think alike because I posted mussels on my blog today, too! I will definitely have to try your recipe!

  16. I just read Tiffany's post on mussels today and was thinking it's been way too long since I've had them. I think the universe is telling me something. Looks great and impressed the kiddos would at least try them!

  17. I've never had mussels before but this dish looks so amazing, I would love to try them! You are raising quite the foodies, Marina! :) Love the beach pics!

  18. Beautiful Marina! I love mussels and never buy them. You are inspiring me to hit the fish market! Love this post!


  19. The perfect seaside meal! Mussels are one of my faves, but unfortunately, my husband can't eat them, so I rarely make them around here...


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