Mussels à la Marseillaise Recipe

Mussels à la Marseillaise

Moules à la Marseillaise, a traditional Provençal recipe from the port city of Marseille. Marseillaise dishes are rich in tomatoes, herbs, and olive oil, a result of the Italian and Spanish immigration in the South of France. This seafood dish is no exception. I normally plan for 4 – 6 half shells per person, depending on the mussel’s size. If you can’t get fresh ones, use frozen green-lipped New Zealand mussels. All you need to do is to thaw them before using. They are a big time saver.

Yield: 4 servings as a main dish, 8 as an appetizer

Time: 30 minutes



  • 2 lbs (900 g) fresh or frozen mussels, cleaned and purged (see Note below)
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 thyme sprigs
  • 2 flat-leaf parsley sprigs for garnish
  • 1 cup (240 ml) dry white wine
  • 4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium-size onion, finely chopped
  • 2 large tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
  • salt and pepper
  • breadcrumbs


  • 1 cup (28 g) flat-leaf parsley
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • white vinegar or lemon juice or to taste

Note: Most mussels you buy nowadays are already purged. All you might want to do is cleaning the shells a bit. If you happen to buy fresh mussels you should purge them first as a precaution, just to make sure that to get any sand out of their digestive tracks. It’s an easy procedure – you find it here.

If you decide to use fresh mussels, place them in a saucepan with a tight lid. Add 1 clove of garlic, 1 small onion, bay leaf, thyme sprigs, 2 parsley sprigs and 1 cup of dry white wine. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. When the liquid starts to boil, shake the saucepan now and then, holding the lid tight. This should distribute the liquid evenly amongst the mussels. After about 5 minutes mussel shells should be open. If not enough mussels have opened, cook them a little bit longer. Discard the unopened ones. Pour mussels into a colander and save the liquid. Filter the liquid through a cheesecloth and set aside. Reserve about 1 cup of the mussels liquid for the tomato sauce. Let the mussels cool down a bit. Discard one half of the shell and keep the mussel meat nestled in the remaining half. Set aside.


In the meantime prepare the Persillade. Chop parsley and garlic finely. Place them into a small bowl. Add white vinegar or lemon juice over it and taste for salt and pepper. Add only enough olive oil to the parsley/garlic mix until it forms a smooth paste. Set aside.

Warm 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add onions and sauté for about 5-8 minutes. Add tomatoes, Persillade and the reserved mussels liquid (if using). Continue cooking for another 10 minutes or until tomatoes begin to fall apart and the sauce has thickened. Taste for salt and pepper.

Preheat oven to 450°F (230°C). Arrange mussels on a baking sheet and spoon enough tomato sauce to cover the mussel meat on each half shell. Sprinkle with bread crumbs and dribble some olive oil over it. Place in oven and bake 15 minutes or until sauce begins to bubble. Serve right away.

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