Let’s Play! Steamed Mussels with Leeks and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

There’s probably a hundred ways to make mussels in white wine, so why not 101 and use some sun-dried tomatoes!

Mussels are pretty popular in my house. Whether serving as a starter, a component on a buffet, or a quick and humble main dish for supper, these lovely little bivalves are always welcome, and always fun to eat. As seafood goes, they are also quite economical as well!

Any excuse to play with our food

There is no way around it, you just have to play with this food to eat it! My preferred method of eating is using my first perfect mussel as pincers to pull out the meat of the rest! It’s pretty primal, and works as well as anything else. It also means one less fork to wash, especially if you are camping.

A wide variety of options

Moules Marinières, or mussels steamed in white wine, is a classic dish, one that can be varied in many ways. Chose a wine you love to drink and you are half-way there. Whether you use an onion, a leek, or even shallots it is up to you, but you do need a lot of garlic. Don’t worry, it won’t be too much, I promise! Do you like fennel? Add a chopped up half a bulb and half teaspoon of crushed fennel seeds to the mix as well. Some like to add cream or crème fraîche to the pot at the end, but I like it with the clean flavor of the broth as is.

It’s all about the broth!

The sundried tomatoes add a little extra sweet edge to the dish, and the tomato paste rounds everything out. The broth is every bit as wonderful as the mussels, so plan to serve it up as well, with lots of dipping bread to help soak it all up. The addition of the stock as well as the wine is not essential, but turns the simple mussels from a feature into a meal.

After cleaning the mussels, the rest of this dish goes really quickly, so if you are having company, don’t even think about starting the cooking until your guests arrive and have nibbled on your little appetizers.

Mussels with White Wine and Sun-dried Tomatoes

  • 2 lbs. mussels
  • 2 tbsp. fruity olive oil
  • 1 large leek or sweet onion, small chop
  • 6-8 cloves garlic, yes, finely minced
  • 2 tbsp. tomato paste
  • 3 sprigs of thyme
  • 1 large pinch saffron
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ¼ cup sun-dried tomatoes, finely minced
  • 2 cups dry white wine you love to drink
  • 2 cups fish or shrimp stock
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tbsp. butter or vegan butter
  • Parsley if you have it, chopped
  • Crusty bread for dunking

            First, clean the mussels. Remove any beard on the side. This is easily done with your fingers or a dry cloth and a good tug. Many mussels will already be cleaned of their beards, but beard or not, give them all a good scrub with a vegetable brush. Check them over and any that are open, tap gently and set aside for a miute. If they close, they are good, if they stay open, discard them. Discard any that are cracked.

Place them in a large bowl and cover with water, a teaspoon of salt, and a couple of tablespoons of corn meal. Let the soak for an hour or so. The mussels will suck in the water with cornmeal and disgorge it, thus cleaning out grit. I’m not sure if this is essential, but it’s how my mother did it with mussels and clams, so I’m sticking with it.

In the meantime, heat a large stockpot over medium high and sauté the onion in the olive oil just until soft, no color here. Add the garlic, tomato paste, and thyme and let this bloom for a minute or so, then toss in the saffron, bay leaf, and sun-dried tomatoes, immediately followed by the white wine and stock. Season, and bring to a boil.

Rinse the mussels and give them a last check over. Add them to the pot of fragrant, boiling liquid. They will give off their own luscious liquid which enhances the broth even more.

Cover, and check in a few minutes. As the mussels start to open, remove them to a bowl, cover, and keep warm. You don’t want them to overcook and they will be ready in different times.

Once they are all open (this time discard any that haven’t) add the butter to the broth and once it melts, add the mussels back in. Mix it all up gently, add some parsley if you have it, taste for seasoning, and place in a large bowl for serving, along with some lovely sturdy bread. Oh that broth!

Don’t forget to put out a discard bowl for everyone to toss their shells! And make sure everyone takes plenty of the broth for dipping their bread!

“Something smells amazing. What are we having?”
“Moules marinières,” Rachel said. “It seemed a shame to let mussel season close without making it at least once.”
“Oh la la,” Melody said. “Paris must have been in the air today, because I made a napoleon.”
Ana handed over a half-filled wineglass and gave Melody a quick hug. “Yo
u‘re killing me, Mel. I’m still recovering from last week’s Death by Chocolate Mousse.”  ~ Carla Laureano, “Brunch at Bittersweet Café.”

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57 Comments Add yours

  1. That looks yummy.

    1. Thank you Jacqui! We loved them!

  2. This dish looks fantastic.

    1. Thank you Jovina! We just adore this one!

  3. America On Coffee says:

    Ahh, a Superb Specialty! Thanks for another delicious share.

    1. Thank you my friend! I’ll save some for you next time!

  4. nancyc says:

    I love sun-dried tomatoes—I believe just about any savory dish is better with them added in! 🙂

    1. I totally agree with you!

  5. nancyc says:

    I love sundried tomatoes–they make everything better! 🙂

    1. They are remarkable aren’t they Nancy!

  6. Ally Bean says:

    This may be a a classic dish in your world, but in mine it is exotic. And looks delicious.

    1. Thank you Ally! It’s both classic, economical, AND exotic!

  7. Christy B says:

    What great timing for this one as my dad and hubby were just talking about mussels as a treat for dinner ~ OHHH I’ll mention the addition of tomatoes to it. Thanks for the tip!

    1. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do Christy!

  8. Nancy says:

    Well you went and did it… now I need to go shopping for mussels. I love this recipe! The sun dried tomatoes had me at hello!
    Thank you for another fabulous share!

    1. Thanks Nancy! You are always so kind! Get those mussels, get a nice loaf of bread, dig in and call it a meal!

      1. Nancy says:

        Oh yea!

  9. BERNADETTE says:

    This might be my favorite mussels recipe ever.

    1. Oh Bernie, it’s so good. I could just drink a vat of the broth by myself!

  10. I bet this tastes wonderful! I love to get mussels as an appetizer at restaurants but yours looks better than any I have ever ordered!

    1. Ah, thanks Diane! These are one of our favorite dishes. So quick, and you can change them up any way you like!

  11. Chef Mimi says:

    Gosh I wish I lived near you! I have never cooked mussels. I would have to get them frozen, and I can’t imagine them being that good. But I do get them at good restaurants!

    1. Thanks Mimi! I’ve never tried cooking frozen mussels, although I’ve seen them. I’m not sure I’ll ever be brave enough!

  12. I’m not a mussels fan, but my husband LOVES them. He’d go for this recipe big time!

  13. Eha says:

    Mussels are easily available and very popular in Australia . . . yes, the mariniere version is the mostly common way of preparation. Always ready for changes shall definitely try ‘your way’ must admit I do find the American love of garlic often excessive and may be somewhat more reticent . . . 😉 !!!

    1. Thank you! It sounds like a lot of garlic, but it really isn’t! Promise!

  14. Gail says:

    Excuse me, Dorothy. I think this dish could be on a restaurant menu. Gorgeous and appetizing. 👀🍃

    1. Why thank you Miss Gail! The restaurant is now closed, but the cooking goes on!

      1. Gail says:

        It has a way of continuing on. 💫

      2. There was a joke in our house when the inn was in full swing; the kids would all want something different to eat, and I’d ask them What do you think this is, a restaurant. Their reply, of course, was Yes, in fact, it is!

      3. Gail says:

        Sounds like they “Gotcha”! 🤣

      4. Oh yeah, with an angelic smile to boot!

      5. Gail says:


  15. Very nice flavors, I should try this.
    Have you tried mussels with blue cheese?

    1. Thanks Stefan! I adore blue cheese on mussels, and it is one of my husband’s favorites. It’s such an interesting combination.

  16. Ah, memories! I grew up on my mother’s great Italian cooking, including eels mussels, clams and snails. To get the greatest flavor from these delicacies, they need to be cooked at their freshest. I can’t tell you how many times I would come home from school to find an eel swimming in the bathtub or my mother plucking snails off the wall above the stove as they desperately tried to flea the fate that awaited them. These memories are ones I’ll never forget; thank goodness the mollusks and eels were incredibly delicious or I’d be having more than my share of nightmares! 😋

    1. I can’t wait to read a story about an eel in the bathtub!!!!

  17. Looks delicious!

    1. Thank you! We were quite happy with this one.

  18. terrie gura says:

    Oh my, yes! We had cioppino on Christmas and had that same “empty shell bowl” on our table. I adore mussels and always appreciate another spin on them. Sun-dried tomatoes are perfect! 😋

    1. Gotta have the bowl! A good restaurant always gives you one; a not-so-good one expects you to pile your shells on the edge of your plate I guess!

  19. I agree with you and your mother about cleaning the mussels. You don’t want to make this delicious recipe only to end up with sandy mussels.

    1. Absolutely Karen! The mussels are usually not too bad; clams are much worse!

  20. Carolyn Page says:

    We very rarely eat mussels at home, Dorothy; Keith just isn’t a mussel lover. However, when out it’s a different story! Though, I know your recipe would put the restaurant meal under par – I’ve had some pretty tough ones!!!
    And I love your method for saving on the washing up… Never have I ever. 🙂

    1. Thanks Carolyn! You are so right about tough mussels. The mussels will all open at different times, so it is important to take them out as they open and not wait for them all. The first to open will go tough in a matter of seconds.

  21. It’s all about the broth indeed, and good mussels though 😉 Looks really mouthwatering!

    1. Thank you Ribana! The broth is indeed what it’s all about!

  22. Mussels are one of our favorite treats…this recipe is a must. Thanks Dorothy. T

    1. Thanks Teresa! Our favorites as well. So simple, and always so satisfying!

  23. I really need to try them as they are abundant here in New England, but I always have gotten the clams. These look yummy and good for my new eating plan.

    1. They are so delicious, inexpensive, and they take a long time to each, one by one, so they are perfect on a meal plan!

      1. Yes, I can’t wait to cook some and I will get my clamming license as well 🙂

      2. Good plan! Enjoy!

  24. Christy B says:

    I came back to read this one again as hubby is craving mussels. They’re not my fave but he really gets a hankering for it sometimes 😊 My dad does too! I always open the windows so it doesn’t smell up the house lol

    1. Well, if the weather is nice up there, you can always do it outside on the grill!

      1. Christy B says:

        He’s never done that! Thanks for the tip!

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