Mussels in White Wine, Tomato, Garlic and butter sauce. Delicous Moules Marinière

Mussels in white wine, garlic and butter sauce

I’ve mentioned before that cooking with fish used to scare me, cooking with mussels even more so. Something about the word ‘beard’ and ‘remove with knife’ just didn’t sit right with me.

When I spotted a bag of gorgeous fresh Port Lincoln, South Australian mussels by Kinkawooka Shellfish recently at the markets that proclaimed to be ‘Scrubbed and cleaned for your convenience’ I just knew I had to have them! No bearding necessary!

Mussels in white wine, garlic and butter sauce

I adore mussels, especially when it combines wine and garlic. One glass of wine for the pot, three for me.

Many moons ago in our pre baby travelling years, my husband and I went on a Mediterranean holiday that incorporated a 10 night cruise, all expenses included. Our first port of call was Dubrovnik, Croatia. I remember walking stunning streets in the old city and a sweet gentleman approached us asking if we’d like a bucket of mussels that were caught fresh that morning. Moules Marinière was the special of the day. My husband said something on the lines of ‘but we already have all our meals included on the ship’. Hmmm now I’m sure the grub on the cruise ship was excellent, but when in Europe, experience as much of it as possible and that includes eating at local restaurants. So we pulled up a seat, ate our body weight in mussels, drank lots of local wine and we had THE MOST INCREDIBLE MEAL EVER. I’ll never forget it, the scene was perfect, the mussels were drowning in garlic and I can still taste it if I close my eyes. The whole meal, for the two of us including wine, calamari, char grilled bread, dessert and coffee came in at around $20 Australian.

I’ve tried to recreate the flavours but it’ll never beat the Dubrovnik meal. Maybe it’s because the mussels weren’t picked that day. Maybe it’s because I don’t have the Mediterranean sea air floating through my kitchen or maybe it’s just an excuse so I can go back one day and eat their version again. My version is fabulous and mouth-watering, but the Dubrovnik meal was something else!

Mussels in white wine, garlic and butter sauce

Mussels in white wine, garlic and butter sauce. Serves 2 as a main or 4 as entrée

  • 1kg mussels, cleaned and bearded
  • 4 -5 large cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 ½ glass white wine
  • 5 tomatoes, diced
  • Bunch of parsley, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • Bunch of basil, chopped (I used 3 ‘ice cubes’ of basil that I had pre chopped and frozen in ice cube trays)
Frozen basil ice cubes

Frozen basil ice cubes

Combine the minced garlic and butter in the largest pot you have, and sauté gently on medium until fragrant, for about a minute.

Add the diced tomatoes and stir for a further minute. Add wine and let it the alcohol boil away for about 3-4 minutes.


Add the mussels to the pot, give it all a shake and close the lid. Let the mussels steam away for a few minutes until they open. Don’t shake it too hard, you don’t want bits of broken shells in the liquid.

When the mussels open, turn off the heat and throw in the parsley and basil. Stir until wilted and remove from the heat. Discard any unopened mussels.

Serve with hot crusty bread as an entrée or with some plain boiled rice as a main.



48 thoughts on “Mussels in White Wine, Tomato, Garlic and butter sauce. Delicous Moules Marinière

  1. I too love mussels prepared your way [including the wine consumption!] and I do think the ‘good old days’ in the ‘Yugoslavian’ countries with their prices are past for good! My biggest culinary mistake was trying to cook them in the one pot for about ten people . . . well the little so-and-sos would not open so I shook them and shook them till they did! Well: that wine sauce around them was quite undeliciously full of shell grit, wasn’t it . . . now only do them for 4-6 😀 !

    • oh yes, however I must say Dubrovnik was the only place we visited that hadn’t converted to Euros yet and we were richer because of it.
      Oh dear, shell is definitely not something you want to serve to party guests!

      • I think you did use live mussels Lisa — it says so on the bag. I would never, ever, cook dead ones. Were they frozen? I would not have thought so as they would not open on cooking.

        Love mussels and your recipe sounds good. Normally Moules Marinière (in France in any case) would not include tomatoes but I must say it sounds good.


      • yep you’re absolutely right, I feel like a complete dill! Of course they’re live!! I had this image in my head of ‘snappy’ mussels!
        Yes, traditional Moules Mariniere is cream based, and not tomato, however this is as close I could get to the Croatian version I tried. Still tastes fabulous, give it a try 🙂

      • Ha Ha Ha !!! Will be in France soon so will try your recipe with the lovely blue north sea mussels — we cannot get them here (Macau, China).

  2. Lisa, I’m the same with mussels – I think I’ve watched too many of those cooking shows about how you have to only use the ones that close, or maybe you’re not supposed to eat the ones that don’t open…aargh..I can’t remember. What did you do when you made this delicious dish?

    • LOL Celia, I know, it’s all so confusing. And the last thing you want to do is poison your family! We discard any unopened mussels. You want to buy them firmly closed, they should steam open and any that don’t, throw them out.

  3. What a wonderful memory. I’m still pretty scared to cook seafood. I’ve had a few disasters and it’s rather pricey to mess up. Yours look great!

  4. Love your idea of “One glass of wine for the pot, three for me.” Wish we could get fresh from the sea mussels or any seafood for that matter. Your dish looks and sounds delicious.

  5. Hi Lisa, I can taste that meal ….. lucky you. Mussels sound so easy to make, I would like to do it but Maus is a bit of a pain. She doesn’t really like them.

  6. I think it’s great you can buy mussels that have already been cleaned – that certainly is a time-saver. Cooking mussels in this way is one of my husband’s most favourite dishes xx

  7. Your method here sounds so very good, Lisa, especially the advice to serve with crusty bread. You don’t want to waste one drop of sauce in the bottom of that bowl!

  8. What a lovely image of travel this evokes.. it must have been just the best experience! I didn’t remember these have “beards”.. I’ve made them once, what if I left the beards on, lol? Love the look of this recipe, Lisa!! My hubs would love it! xx

  9. I confess I have been afraid of Muscles. I’m from Iowa and they are ALIEN to us! I LOVE eating them however and will have to try one day. I love to cook! I’ll have to so I’ll use this recipe it looks DELICIOUS!

  10. Yum!! I adore mussels, and am so lucky to live a stones throw from Portarlington which is know for its mussel farming and the annual Mussel Festival. So we get fresh plump juicy mussels year round. Would love to have you down for a big mussel cook off one day! 🙂

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