Mussels are a tasty and economical seafood option that can be enjoyed with the simplest of preparations--steamed, with some lemon or butter--or in heartier sauces such as this recipe. When making this recipe, use a pot that's large enough to hold the mussels with some room for stirring. Although the tomato sauce should simmer for about 45 minutes, the mussels themselves will cook in just 3 to 5 minutes, which is why you add them at the end. You can serve the sauce over hot pasta and arrange the cooked mussels on top, or serve the sauce and mussels in a bowl with crusty bread for sopping up the sauce.
2 lbs mussels, washed and beards removed
2 Tbs olive oil
3 shallots, peeled and chopped
6 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 28-oz can diced tomatoes, undrained
1/2 cup red wine
2 bay leaves
2 Tbs chopped fresh basil
1/4 tsp dried marjoram
Dash of ground cinnamon
1/4 to 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (to taste)
For Garnish: Several leaves of basil, washed, dried and cut into chiffonade (thin strips); Freshly grated Asiago or Parmesan cheese
Heat the oil in a large pot, add shallots and saute until softened. Add garlic and saute 2 minutes. Stir in tomatoes with liquid from can, wine, bay leaves, chopped basil, marjoram, cinnamon and pepper. Bring to a gentle simmer, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. **Note: if you plan on serving over pasta, start the pasta towards the end of this cooking time.
After the sauce has cooked for 45 minutes, stir in the mussels, cover and cook just until the shells open - this should only take about 3 to 5 minutes. Before serving, throw out any mussels that haven't opened after cooking for 5 minutes. Serve over hot pasta, arranging the mussels on top, or in a bowl with bread, and garnish with a little shredded Parmesan or Asiago cheese and basil chiffonade.