John’s Mussels in White Wine and Tomato Sauce

I am a lover of many things from the sea, but I was first introduced to mussels by John. Mussels are quick to prepare and of course, tastes and smell amazing. This is a memorable meal, which has been used to mark many wonderful family occasions.

Serves: 4
Cooking Time: around 30 minutes


+ 3 tablespoons olive oil
+ 1 brown onion, finely chopped
+ 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
+ 1 teaspoon tomato paste
+ 1 400 g tin of tomatoes
+ 1 teaspoon of sugar (if sauce is too acidic)
+ 1/2 cup dry white wine
+ 1 kg cleaned mussels
+ sprigs of fresh herbs (I prefer parsley or thyme)
+ crusty bread and butter to serve


To make the tomato sauce, cook onions and garlic in a large saucepan, until soft. Add tomato paste, stirring to combine. Add your tin of tomatoes and reduce heat to medium low. Cook until sauce has thickened, for at least half an hour, crushing the tomatoes with a wooden spoon and stirring to make sure it does not catch. If sauce tastes too acidic, add sugar and cook 5 minutes more. You should have around 2 cups of sauce.

When the sauce is almost ready, heat the white wine in a large saucepan or frying pan with a lid. When the liquid starts to steam, add the springs of herbs and the mussels and cover. Steam until the mussels start to open, removing them into a clean bowl one by one as they do. Don’t chuck out the mussels that refuse to open, science has dismissed the myth that these are unsafe to eat. They are simply a little harder to open!

Reserve the cooking liquid and add some to the tomato sauce to taste (I like about two or three tablespoons – be careful because the liquid is salty and too much will ruin the sauce).

Serve immediately with a sprig of parsley, and with a side of buttered crusty bread to soak up the extra sauce.

Original recipe sourced from the Family Archives.

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