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Moules Provençale – Mussels with Tomatoes, Herbs & Garlic

I’m still thinking a lot about simple protein plus sauce dishes and a flick through the Epicurious website led me to a few dishes that I fancied trying out. I made my order for delivery at Tesco.com and I thought the first thing I’d cook would be the mussels so they were as fresh as possible. You can find the original recipe for this here.


  • 1kg mussels, cleaned
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 1 tsp chopped fresh basil, plus extra to garnish
  • Bouquet garni
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 440g ripe plum tomatoes, peeled and chopped, or 1 can chopped tomatoes
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tsp sugar
Method of Preparation
  1. To make the sauce, heat the olive oil in a large saucepan, add the onions, celery, garlic, basil and bouquet garni, and cook over low heat for 5 minutes or until softened but not browned.
  2. Mix in the tomato paste and tomatoes, salt, pepper, and sugar, and simmer gently for 30 minutes.
  3. Put the mussels in a casserole dish with the wine, over high heat, and bring to a boil. Cook for a few minutes only, until the mussels have opened, stirring frequently to ensure they are evenly cooked.
  4. Pour off the cooking liquid, discard any mussels that have not opened, and return the opened mussels, in their shells, to the casserole dish.
  5. Pour the hot tomato sauce over the mussels and heat through. Sprinkle with chopped basil and serve at once

Now then, every once in a while things don’t go to plan. I had my veg prepped to start my sauce when I thought, “I’ll just clean these mussels before I put the sauce on so I’m not rushing around later”

I opened the packet, Tesco had supplied me with about 1.4kg, and I was gobsmacked. There were broken shells everywhere, the vast majority were wide open and a lot of them were just covered in what looked like tube worm fossils. By the time I’d got through them all, trying to tap them closed and scrape off the unsightly looking white ‘fossils’ on them I counted I had 20 mussels that I was prepared to use so I binned the lot in a fit of rage.

The Grand Total from 1.4kg!

After a couple of minutes of staring at my prepared vegetables I calmed down enough to remember I’d ordered twice the amount of pork I was going to use this week so instead of freezing it I threw two boneless loin steaks in the griddle pan with a heap of butter, 5 mins each side and served that up with the sauce.

I wasn’t sure it would work as I can’t remember having basil and pork before but it was really nice and both Wife and I enjoyed it thoroughly. The sauce does require a decent amount of seasoning for my tastes (black pepper addict) but it was really clean and tasty. I used Napolina chopped tomatoes as I don’t see the point in saving 30p on a tin when more often than not they’re going to form the base of your dish.

Pork a la Provençale???

So that’s that, I suppose you could call it Pork Provençale but that’s a different dish all together. I will probably use the sauce again given its simplicity, any firm white fish or pork would go fine and perhaps I can find some decent mussels to give it a proper go.


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