Grilled Mussels with Salsa Verde

May/June 2011

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This is a fun little appetizer of mussels roasted with salsa verde, a bold-flavored Italian sauce made with lots of fresh herbs, garlic and anchovies. We blanch the garlic in this version to give it a more subtle flavor that doesn’t overpower the mussels. The bonus in this recipe is that you get leftover mussel broth, which is a delicious base for seafood soups and sauces.

Grilled Mussels with Salsa Verde

Makes: 12 servings

Active Time:

Total Time:


Salsa Verde

  • 6 medium cloves garlic, unpeeled
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped fresh parsley
  • 4 anchovy fillets
  • 2 tablespoons capers, rinsed
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil or mint or 1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest (see Tips)
  • 2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste


  • 3 pounds mussels, cleaned (see Tips)
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 tablespoons butter


  1. To prepare salsa verde: Place garlic in a small saucepan and cover with 1/2 inch of cold water. Bring to a boil over high heat. As soon as the water boils, drain, add 1/2 inch of water to the pan and bring to a boil again. Drain and rinse under cold water until cool enough to handle. Peel and coarsely chop.
  2. Place the garlic, parsley, anchovies, capers, basil (or mint or tarragon) and lemon zest in a food processor or blender. With the motor running, slowly add oil until just blended. The sauce should still have a little texture. Season with salt and pepper; set aside.
  3. To prepare mussels: Place mussels in a Dutch oven (or other large pot) along with wine, parsley and butter. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium, cover tightly and cook, stirring once or twice, until the mussels open, 4 to 6 minutes. Transfer the mussels to a large bowl with a slotted spoon. (Discard any unopened mussels.) Pour the broth through a fine-mesh sieve and set aside.
  4. Preheat grill to medium-high or position a rack in upper third of oven and preheat broiler.
  5. Line a baking sheet (one that will fit on your grill, if grilling) with about 1/2 inch of rock salt, coarse salt or loosely crumpled foil to make a base for the mussels. (This will prevent them from tipping over.) When cool enough to handle, remove the top shell from each mussel. Loosen the meat from the shell with a paring knife or spoon. Place the mussels in their half shells on the prepared baking sheet. Add a scant teaspoon of the reserved broth to each, then top with a generous dollop of salsa verde. (Refrigerate or freeze the remaining mussel broth for another use.)
  6. Just before you’re ready to serve, place the baking sheet of mussels on the grill (or under the broiler) and grill (or broil) until the salsa begins to bubble and the mussels are heated through, about 5 minutes on the grill, 3 to 5 minutes under the broiler. Serve immediately.

Tips & Notes

  • Make Ahead Tip: Cover and refrigerate salsa verde for up to 1 day. Or prepare through Step 3, cover and refrigerate the salsa and mussels separately. Finish with Steps 4-6 just before serving. | Equipment: Rock salt, coarse salt or foil
  • Tips: A microplane grater is a great kitchen gadget that seems to be tailor-made for grating citrus zest. It was originally designed to function as a woodworking tool (called a carpenter’s rasp). Its razor-sharp edges shave off the zest effortlessly and make it easier to leave the bitter white pith on the fruit. It’s the right tool when you want fluffy, very fine citrus zest. Traditional kitchen graters can be used for zesting citrus, too, but they have a tendency to rip and shred the zest, giving a somewhat more clumpy, wet result.
  • Discard mussels with broken shells or whose shell remains open after you tap it. Hold mussels under running water and use a stiff brush to remove any barnacles; pull off any black fibrous “beards.” (Some mussels may not have a beard.) Mussels should be “debearded” no more than 30 minutes before cooking.


Per serving: 175 calories; 15 g fat (3 g sat, 10 g mono); 16 mg cholesterol; 3 g carbohydrates; 0 g added sugars; 6 g protein; 0 g fiber; 195 mg sodium; 112 mg potassium.

Nutrition Bonus: Vitamin C (19% daily value).

Carbohydrate Servings: 0

Exchanges: 1 lean meat, 2 1/2 fat

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