Mussels in Provencal (tomato) sauce infused with herbs 🇫🇷

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What are Mussels Provencal?

– mussels cooked in a rich, aromatic French sauce infused with red wine and herbs typical of the Provencal region.

Introduction to Mussels Provencal

Mussels Provençal, or “Moules à la Provençale,” originates from the Provence region in southern France, renowned for its Mediterranean cuisine centred around fresh vegetables, herbs, grapes and olive oil.
This dish showcases the region’s culinary ethos of simplicity and freshness, blending seafood with the vibrant flavours of Provencal ingredients.

Ingredients

  • fresh mussels
  • tomatoes
  • onions
  • garlic
  • olive oil
  • butter
  • red wine
  • marjoram
  • thyme
  • rosemary
  • parsley
  • fennel (optional)
  • Ensure mussels are thoroughly cleaned.
  • You can use canned chopped tomatoes or fresh ripe aromatic varieties.
  • Using red wine in the sauce adds a richer flavour profile. Mussels, unlike delicate white fish, are robust enough to absorb the flavour of red wine, which enriches the depth of the dish. However, if preferred, white wine can be used as a perfect substitute, offering a lighter and fresher flavour that complements the seafood beautifully
  • Herbs Provençal usually include thyme, rosemary, marjoram, and oregano as standard ingredients. However, bay leaf, savoury, and fennel are also commonly used. Some recipes might only call for a few of these herbs, while others incorporate all. If you don’t have all the different herbs, you can use Herbs de Provence as a convenient alternative blend.

Suggestions
– You can add a fish or vegetable stock cube to deepen the flavour
– If you like it spicy, add chilli flakes, powder, or fresh chilli.
– Drizzle some lemon juice towards the end; after all, fish is perfect with a touch of lemon.

How to cook Mussels Provencal?

Clean the Mussels: Scrub under cold water and remove any beards. Discard any mussels that are open and do not close when tapped.

Sauté Vegetables and Herbs: Heat olive oil and butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add finely chopped onions and parsley, and fry for about 2 minutes, until soft and translucent. Next, add the chopped garlic and fry for another 30 seconds, ensuring it releases its aroma without browning. Then, stir in the chopped tomatoes, sugar, and herbs. Avoid adding salt, as the mussels will release their own salty liquid once they open.
Cook the mixture for 5-7 minutes until the tomatoes break down and the flavours blend well. Finally, pour in the red wine and simmer for a couple of minutes to enhance the sauce. And voilà, the sauce for your Mussels Provencal is ready.

Tip
Once the sauce is done, you can blend it into a smooth sauce using a blender or food processor. This creates a velvety texture and blends the flavours beautifully. For presentation, consider leaving some fresh herbs aside to garnish and add to the blended sauce just before serving. This adds a burst of fresh flavour and enhances the visual appeal of your Mussels Provencal!

Cook mussels: In the final step add the cleaned mussels, cover, and cook for about 5 minutes. until the mussels open. Towards the end of cooking, when the mussels have opened, carefully move them around the pot with a wooden spoon, just once or twice is enough. This helps so the sauce reaches all the mussels and mixes evenly. Discard any that remain closed. Removing mussels that haven’t opened after cooking is important for safety. Mussels naturally open when cooked; those that remain closed may be dead and unsafe to eat.

Unopened mussels cooking in provencal sauce in a large pot.
Cleaned mussels added to Provencal sauce, ready to simmer and soak up all the flavour
Mussels in Provencal sauce at the end of cooking, all open.
Mussels cooked to perfection with shells wide open
Large portion of cooked mussels served with sliced rustic bread
Mussels in Provencal sauce served with freshparsely and lemon slices.

What to serve with Mussels Provencal

Serve with French fries for a classic “moules-frites” experience, a simple green salad, or roasted vegetables. Crusty bread is essential for soaking up the flavourful broth.

Mussels in clear Provencal sauce served with rustic bread

Wine Pairings: A crisp, dry white wine like Sauvignon Blanc or a Provence Rosé pairs well, complementing the dish without overpowering it.

Recipe Card

Mussels in Provencal Tomato Sauce

Mussels cooked in a rich, aromatic sauce with red wine, tomatoes, and herbs from the Provencal region of France.
Servings 2 people
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 kg fresh mussels
  • 1/2 lemon - for serving

SAUCE

  • 400 ml chopped tomatoes
  • 1 onion
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 200 ml red wine
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp parsley
  • 2 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1 tsp marjoram
  • fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp butter
  • olive oil
  • black pepper - to taste

Instructions

  • Scrub mussels under cold water and remove any beards. Discard any mussels that are open and do not close when tapped.
  • Heat olive oil and butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add finely chopped onions and parsley, and sauté for about 2 minutes until soft and translucent. Add chopped garlic and fry for another 30 seconds, ensuring it releases its aroma without browning.
  • Stir in chopped tomatoes, sugar, and herbs. Avoid adding salt, as the mussels will release their own salty liquid once they open. Cook the mixture for 5-7 minutes until the tomatoes break down and the flavours blend well.
  • Pour in the red wine and simmer for a couple of minutes to enhance the sauce.
  • Add the cleaned mussels, cover, and cook for about 5 minutes until the mussels open. Towards the end of cooking, carefully move them around the pot with a wooden spoon to ensure the sauce reaches all the mussels and mixes evenly. Discard any that remain closed.

Notes

The total calories for this dish are approximately 670. Please note that the calorie count can vary depending on the specific products used. This recipe serves two people, with 350 calories per serving.
Calories: 350kcal
Course: Main Course, starter
Cuisine: French
Diet: Low Calorie, Low Fat, Vegetarian

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