spicy mussels

This rich, spicy mussel dish was inspired by a favorite item served at our neighborhood Italian bistro. The mussels release their delicious, briny juices into the sauce as they cook, making the sauce so good you’ll want to sop up every last drop with an essential chunk of crusty bread. Harissa is a Tunisian hot chili pepper paste made from red chilies, cumin, caraway, garlic, and olive oil. It’s easy to make, but I often pick it up in the ethnic section of my grocery store. It adds a bit of kick to any number of preparations, including a flank steak marinade or some homemade hummus. The fire-roasted tomatoes contribute a smoky flavor to this party-friendly dish.

spicy mussels

Print Recipe
Serves: 4 Cooking Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can fire-roasted tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 leek, white part only, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons minced garlic
  • ¼ teaspoon chili powder
  • ½ cup white wine
  • 2 tablespoons harissa
  • 4 tablespoons (½ stick) butter
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 4 pounds mussels
  • Fresh lemon juice, for garnish
  • Chopped parsley, for garnish

Instructions

1

Purée the tomatoes in a blender or food processor until smooth. Set aside.

2

In a 5-quart Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the leek, garlic, and chili powder. Sweat until soft and transparent. Add the wine and simmer for about 2 minutes.

3

Add the puréed tomatoes, harissa (start with less than 2 tablespoons if you want a milder dish), butter, and salt. Simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

4

Meanwhile, scrub the mussels and remove their beards. Discard any mussels that don’t close tightly during this process.

5

Add the mussels to the pot and continue to simmer for about 5 minutes, or until the shells open. If some shells are unopened, stir the pot once and cook for an additional 2 minutes. Discard any unopened mussels.

6

Spoon some mussels into the bowls, including some of the sauce. Garnish with a dash of lemon juice and chopped parsley.

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