The Inside Story from Italian Wine Merchants

Summer Mussels

Posted on | July 29, 2011 | Written by David Bertot | No Comments

June 21st was the first official day of summer, and the last day will be the September 22nd.  Today is the 46th summer day, and only just now do we really begin to relax and settle into summer.   To help you celebrate summer and all its glory, I’m giving a recipe for a classic Italian summer dish common on the coast and on the islands.  It can be enjoyed any time of year, but I particularly enjoy it in the summer since it’s a natural for al fresco dining, especially if you’re going to pass it around and share with friends and family.  As in cooking any recipe, do be sure to use the absolute best ingredients possible.


  • A few tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 8 slices really good crusty bread, about1 1/2 inches thick
  • 1 whole garlic clove plus 12 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced on a diagonal
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 pounds Prince Edward Island mussels (or other black mussels)
  • 2 cups San Marzano tomato puree
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
  • 1 handful fresh chive stems
  • 1 cup loosely packed fresh basil, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup fresh oregano

Brush olive oil onto each slice of bread.  Toast until brown and crisp. Rub both sides with whole garlic. Cut bread in half on the diagonal. Set to the side.

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook sliced garlic, scallions and salt, stirring occasionally, until scallions and garlic color slightly, about 2-3 minutes. Add mussels, tomato puree, wine and pepper flakes. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium, cover and cook until mussels open, 1 to 2 minutes, quickly discarding any mussels that don’t open. Uncover pan and add herbs; toss to combine. Divide mussels evenly among four bowls and spoon broth over them. Serve immediately with the garlic rubbed bread.  Serves 3-4 as a delicious antipasti.  Enjoy!

This dish is a natural pairing with the wines of Sardegna, Corsica, and of course Sicilia.  Try it with whites or reds as it will shine with both. I’m a big fan of the COS Rami; it’s fresh and clean, but it’s still unusual, a little funky, definitely mineral laden, and kissed with lemon and caramel. Whether it be beach, boat, poolside, or park, get out there and enjoy the rest of the summer with family and friends.  Although I will fully welcome the fall with beautiful red wines and hearty meals, I will certainly miss the summer–or I will for at least for nine months.



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