Mussels Marseillaise

Mussels à la Marseillaise

Yield: 4 servings as a main dish, 8 as an appetizer

Time: 30 minutes

Moules à la Marseillaise, a traditional Provençal recipe from the port city of Marseille. Marseille food is rich in tomatoes, herbs, and olive oil a deference to the Italian and Spanish immigration in the South of France. This seafood dish is no exception. I normally serve it as an appetizer or as a light lunch. As an appetizer I would plan for 4 – 6 half shells per person, depending on the shell’s size. If you can’t get fresh ones, use frozen mussels. The dish even works well with New Zealand green-lipped mussels.


  • 2 lbs (900 g) fresh mussels, cleaned and purged
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 thyme springs
  • 2 parsley springs
  • 1 cup (240 ml) of dry white wine
  • 4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 large tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
  •  Persillade
  • salt and pepper
  •  breadcrumbs

Mussels à la Marseillaise2


Most mussels you buy nowadays are already purged. All you might want to do is cleaning the shells a bit. If you happen to buy fresh mussels you should purge them first as a precaution, just to make sure that to get any sand out of their digestive tracks. It’s an easy procedure.

Put the mussels in a pot with a tight lid. Add 3 cloves of garlic, 1 small onion, 1 bay leaf, 2 thyme sprigs, 2 parsley sprigs and 1 cup of dry white wine. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. When the liquid starts to boil, shake the pot every minute or so, holding the lid tight. This should distribute the liquid evenly amongst the mussels. After about 5 minutes mussel shells should be open. If not enough have opened cook them a little bit more. Discard the unopened ones. Pour mussels into a colander and save the liquid. Filter the liquid through a cheesecloth and set aside. Let the mussels cool down a bit. Discard one half of the shell and keep the mussel meat nestled in the remaining half. Set aside.

In the meantime prepare the Persillade, you find the recipe here.

Warm 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil in a pan over low heat. Add onions and sauté for about 10 minutes. Raise heat and add tomatoes and Persillade. Sauté for another 10 minutes until tomatoes begin to fall apart. Add the saved mussel liquid and continue cooking for another 10 minutes or until sauce has thickened. Taste for salt and pepper.

Preheat oven to 450°F (230°C). Arrange mussels on a baking sheet and spoon the tomato sauce over each shell so that it covers the mussel meat. Sprinkle with bread crumbs and dribble some olive oil over it. Place in oven and bake until sauce begins to bubble. Serve right away.


Marseille-Vieux Port
Entrance to Marseille’s picturesque Old Port (Vieux Port).


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.