Mussels are a relatively mild-flavored seafood. They pair wonderfully with red wine and some of the remaining garden-fresh tomatoes and basil. Mussels are amazing nutritionally since the whole "animal" is eaten!
I cooked a quick lunch of these mussels in red wine sauce last week for myself and the kids. My 5-year-old was skeptical (she's unfortunately reached the age of being suspicious of new foods, and especially anything too "chewy"), but I prepped her ahead of time not to make a big deal about it since her little brother will follow whatever he sees her do. Her 2-year old brother and I loved this dish. My son ate 8 mussels on his own!
We enjoyed this with a few pieces of toasted, buttered crusty sourdough bread (which we buy from a local bakery once every few months as a treat). The juices are just so good to sop up with the toast. But this dish would also be great without the bread, just eaten as a soup.
This recipe was based on one from Gorging Gorge, but I did make a few changes to the recipe.
Mussels in Red Wine Sauce
3 Tb butter, preferably from grassfed cows
1/2 white onion, chopped
1 very large ripe tomato, or 2 medium tomatoes, chopped (or substitute canned tomatoes in the winter)
4 cloves fresh garlic, chopped
3/4 cup dry red wine, such as chianti (or substitute vermouth)
1 pound precooked mussels (frozen or partially thawed are fine)*
1/4 cup tightly packed chopped fresh basil leaves
Melt the butter in a 4-quart pot over medium heat. Add the onion and a sprinkle of salt. Saute for about 10 minutes, until it is nicely translucent.
Add the chopped tomato and garlic to the pot. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Saute for about 5 minutes, until the tomato starts to break down.
Pour in the red wine and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and let the wine cook down for a few minutes.
Add the mussels. Since they are pre-cooked, you only need to cook them for a few minutes to fully warm them. I nestled them down into the sauce and cooked them for about 3 minutes.
Add the fresh basil, stir it in, and turn off the heat. Put a lid on the pot to let the basil wilt for about 2-3 minutes.
Ladle into bowls and enjoy! Don't forget to discard any mussels that are not opened up.
*I don't have access to fresh mussels where I live. If you can get fresh mussels, feel free to use them! You'll just need to increase the cooking time by about 5-7 minutes.
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