Let me tell you, Folks. This is the kind of dish that I want to enjoy a big ol’ bowl of while sitting on my balcony …. watching the ocean waves roll onto the sand with the sun just barely setting. Oh–and of course with a fantastic chilled glass of Sancerre in hand.
Only problem is–although the beach is just a short bit away, there are a bunch of pesky buildings and homes blocking my view. How inconsiderate of them, right?
Oh….and I also don’t have a balcony.
So instead, I’ll just sit on the living floor while diving into this scrumptious bowl of mussels and watch whichever show I’m binge-watching on Netflix at the moment.
Pretty much the same right? Just splitting hairs, really.
I usually make Spicy Mussels in White Wine or Belgian Beer Mussels with Frites as they’re both so low maintenance but these Tomato-Fennel Mussels really do bring such a different profile. Just as easy but the addition of the fennel, crushed tomatoes and clam juice create a rich and an intensively flavorful sauce–particularly when the liquor of the mussels join the party. They smell divine while bubbling away and are perfection when you serve it with toasted baguette or ciabatta to soak up all that goodness. In fact, the sauce is thick enough (but not too thick) that it can be served over linguine or other long stranded pasta.
Whatever the setting you end up having these mussels at, you’re going to love them!
ps. And if you’re anything like my Seestrah, add a few threads of saffron when you pour in the tomatoes. She’s fancy like that! ❤
Serves approximately 4-6
1 small fennel bulb with fronds
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
½ cup diced white onions
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
½ cup dry white wine
1 8-ounce bottle clam juice
1 28-ounce can San Marzano tomatoes, crushed
4-5 fresh thyme sprigs
2 dried bay leaves
5 pounds black mussels, scrubbed and debearded
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
Cut the fennel bulb from the stalk, reserving the fronds. Dice the bulb and roughly chop the fronds. Set aside separately.
Heat a large, heavy bottom pot over medium heat. Add the olive oil, butter and swirl around the pot. Once the oil begins shimmering and the butter has melted, add in the onions and chopped fennel bulb. Stir and cook for 4-5 minutes until softened but not browned. Add the garlic, red pepper flakes and cook for an additional minute until fragrant. Pour in the wine and allow the liquids to come to a boil. Keep stirring until the wine nearly evaporates.
Pour in the clam juice and can of crushed tomatoes with its juices. Stir in the thyme sprigs and bay leaves. Partially cover the pot and allow everything to come to a rolling boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer the ingredients for 10-15 minutes stirring once or twice during that time.
Uncover the pot and turn up the heat to medium. Once the items starting bubbling, add in the mussels. Stir a few times so that they become coated in the tomato sauce and place the lid back on the pot. Allow the mussels to steam for 5-7 minutes until they have all opened.
Remove the lid, stir the mussels around a few times and taste the sauce. Add additional salt as necessary. Discard of the thyme stems and bay leaves. Fold in the fresh parsley and half of the chopped fennel fronds. Transfer the mussels and the sauce into a large serving dish. Garnish with the remaining fennel fronds and serve with warm bread.