Mussels in White Wine with Herbs

by Emily Kemme
Mussels in White Wine and Herbs

On a hot summer night, I do my best to keep kitchen time short and head outside for dinner under the stars. Steamed mussels in white wine with herbs is a perfect option, but people always ask if mussels in summertime are safe to eat.

The answer is: generally, yes.

Before refrigeration, it’s true that shellfish such as oysters, mussels and clams could easily spoil. Take a mussel out of its cool-water environment and it’s not going to remain happy. Modern refrigeration and smart food storage eliminates that worry.

Two other issues remain: fear of toxin poisoning from red tides, a seasonal proliferation of algae blooming near coastlines which, when ingested by the bivalve, is transferrable to humans when consumed. The other is summer is when shellfish spawn — creating a milkiness and less firm texture — making them less palatable.

With strict harvesting regulations and the high likelihood that shellfish purchased at the supermarket are commercially farmed, poisoning is limited to locally harvested shellfish.

The blue mussels in this recipe are farm-raised, grown on ropes in cool, Northern climates. Available at most larger grocery stores, these mussels need little cleaning other than a thorough rinse under cool water. Their meat is sweet, tender and plump and makes for a light, summertime meal.

Mussels in White Wine and Herbs Recipe

1/2 white onion, finely chopped

1/3 cup dry white wine

3 T unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces

1 T white wine vinegar

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 lb bag fresh blue mussels, rinsed under cool water and inspected for cracked shells.

Note 1: purchase mussels on the day you intend to cook them. Store in a bowl filled with ice and the bag they came in opened so mussels can breathe.

Note 2: before steaming, tap each mussel to make sure it closes firmly. Discard any mussels with broken or cracked shells, or if they remain open, an indication that the mussel has died.

2 T Italian parsley, chopped

2 T basil leaves, sliced into chiffonade

Basil chiffonade

What the heck is a chiffonade? It only sounds fancy. All it means is to slice thinly. Rolling up the basil leaves makes it easy.

3 – 4 small tomatoes, diced

pepper to taste

Equipment needed: large, heavy pot with lid; cheesecloth

Place onion, wine, butter, vinegar and garlic in large, heavy pot. Add cleaned mussels, cover and bring to boil over medium-high heat. Cook for 3 – 5 minutes, shaking pot several times gently. Remove from heat and discard any unopened mussels.

Using slotted spoon, remove mussels to large serving bowl.

Place a double layer of cheesecloth in strainer placed over clean bowl. Pour broth in cooking pot into strainer. Season with pepper to taste. Pour strained broth over mussels.

Sprinkle mussels with parsley, basil and tomatoes.

Serve immediately with green salad and toasted bread to sop up the broth.

Serves 2. Can be doubled easily.

Mussels in White Wine and Herbs

Simple summer dining at its best, blue mussels like these from chilly Canadian waters may be enjoyed year-round due to safe farming methods. Enjoy with a green salad and crusty bread to soak up the white wine herb broth.

Rogo GodelloWhat about a wine pairing for this light, easy meal? Stephanie Davis, a wine educator and founder of Albarello products has a delightful suggestion. She says try a light, dry white wine made from the Spanish grape, Godello. From Galicia in Northwest Spain, it’s the perfect seafood partner. Typical Godello wines express apples, apricots, pineapple, herbs and mint notes. They’ve become more widely distributed. Priced about $18.99/bottle.

Did you enjoy reading this? If so, please share! And thank you!

Award-winning author Emily Kemme writes about human nature, illuminating the everyday in a way that highlights its brilliance. Follow her on her blog, Feeding the Famished,, or on Twitter @EmFeedsYou . Life inspired. Vodka tempered.

Like this blog post? Subscribe to my newsletter so you won’t miss out on future blog posts!

Related Articles

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.