A Healthy Guide to Sustainable Cooking Part 2 – Celebrating with Mussels

Created on Tuesday, 13 September 2011

A Special Feature Written by FishWise Intern and Food Enthusiast, Anna Brown

At the end of last week, I felt the urge to celebrate. Celebrate what? Who knows, but sometimes one must celebrate the good stuff in life: the weekend, summer weather, the end of midterm exams, whatever your excuse may be. Of course for me, having a good time must always involve food, so I grabbed my wallet and marched over to my local New Leaf Community Market.

I don’t buy fresh seafood too often because it can sometimes be pricy, but I found a very economical way to have a fantastic dinner for two: mussels! For around $5 a pound you can have a delicious meal of fresh mussels, which besides being a mouth-watering treat, are extremely good for you. Aside from being high in protein and low in fat, they are rich in iron, manganese, phosphorous, selenium, zinc and vitamins C, B-12 and have the most Omega-3 fatty acids of all shellfish. A mere 15 mussels have as much iron as a 6 oz. steak, and when comparing the two, are much less expensive and far more environmentally sustainable.

Mussels are an excellent healthy, sustainable choice for your dinner table. They are considered to be a “best choice” by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch Program because they are filter-feeders and therefore feed on natural particles already existing in the environment.. They are also grown without the use of chemicals and because they are usually grown on suspended ropes, harvesting them doesn’t affect the sea floor environment. So go for it, enjoy sustainable seafood for any occasion!

Here’s my simple yet decadent recipe for mussels. You will need:


1 lb. fresh mussels

2 tbsp. butter

1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

¾ cup dry white wine

½ onion, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

3-4 tbsp fresh parsley, minced

1 loaf fresh sourdough bread



After you purchase your mussels, rinse them in cold water just for a minute to freshen them up and remove any remaining grit. Don’t soak them in freshwater, it will kill them and you want your mussels still living before you cook them. They will last 48-72 hours in the refrigerator when covered with a damp cloth, but the sooner you eat them the better.

Begin by melting your butter and olive oil together in a pot, add in your onions and cook until they are just translucent and fragrant. Add in the finely chopped garlic. Season with pepper and a touch of salt, not too much though! The mussels are salty from the ocean to begin with.

As the onions cooks down and the garlic sweetens (about 5-10 minutes in) pour in the white wine and parsley. Cook this together for another 3 or 4 minutes then gently add your mussels and cover. Cook with the lid on for 10-15 minutes until the shells open.

Dump this wonderful concoction into a nice big bowl with all of the cooking broth included. Eat the mussels right out of the shells, and I highly recommend dipping some lightly toasted sourdough bread in the salty-sweet broth, it’s delicious and simple. Plus you only used ¾ cup of wine in the recipe so make sure to pair your meal with a cool glass of white wine and someone to share it with.