Tradition and Italian Style Steamed Mussels

Italian Style Steamed Mussels ~ Living the Savory LifeI’m a lover of tradition.  Whether it be a husband and wife taking a 45 minute Sunday drive every week to share their favorite breakfast muffin, a group of girlfriends meeting up for a weekend away from all corners of the country, or an annual family photo album (yes, our 2013 album is “still in the works”).Italian Style Steamed Mussels ~ Living the Savory Life

Traditions make you feel a part of something bigger than just you; something to look forward to and something to treasure.  They connect you to others.  I have a lovely tradition I share with a friend I’ve had since early childhood.  It is something we both look forward to.  It first started when I was living in Seattle and she was (and still is) living in San Francisco.  I traveled a lot for my job then and when I could, I would route through San Fran stopping in to say hello to my friend I grew up with in Vermont.  We would have a night out for dinner, or perhaps a Sunday brunch,  but after high stress hectic work weeks, we were both just as happy to have chilled out evenings at her house, cooking in her fantastic kitchen and just having a good ol’ catch up.  There’s one meal we ALWAYS make.  You see, I CRAVE the salads she makes and she quite likes my mussels.  So we grab a bottle (or two) of wine, a beautiful French baguette, she makes the salad, and I make the mussels.Italian Style Steamed Mussels ~ Living the Savory Life

It’s a little harder now that I don’t live in Seattle, and our salads and mussels, and catch ups are fewer and farther between but we are even more grateful when they do happen.  The last time was here at my home in Perth.  I was so thankful that she made the journey all the way from San Fran to Melbourne (for the Aussie Open) and ultimately to Perth.Italian Style Steamed Mussels ~ Living the Savory Life

I’m sorry to say, I won’t be sharing her very famous salad with you.  To be honest, I’ve tried to make it, many times, and it never tastes just like hers.  And well, it’s just not mine to share.  Should she ever want to guest post though, I definitely wouldn’t say no!  What I will share is my half of the tradition.  This mussel recipe comes together very easily and quickly.  They are warming and comforting and good any time of year.Italian Style Steamed Mussels ~ Living the Savory Life

So three cheers to good friends who have become family.  Three cheers to tradition.  And three cheers to these Italian Style Steamed Mussels, my contribution to one of my favorite traditions.

Italian Style Steamed Mussels ~ Living the Savory Life

Italian Style Steamed Mussels ~ Living the Savory Life

Italian Style Steamed Mussels


  • 2 lbs ~1kg live mussels cleaned and debearded
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 heaping Tbsp minced garlic
  • 1/2 yellow onion thinly sliced
  • 1 shallot thinly sliced
  • 1 - 2 spring fresh thyme
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 standard sized can of diced tomatoes fire roasted tomatoes would be great here
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • Salt to taste
  • French baguette for serving


  1. Heat a large pan over medium high heat. (Use one with a lid. I used my 11" French Skillet)
  2. Add oil. Once it becomes glossy and ripples when you move the pan, add onion, shallot, garlic, thyme and pepper. Saute until translucent and softened. Approximately 3 minutes.
  3. Add wine and bring to a boil for 2 minutes.
  4. Add tomatoes.
  5. Once hot, add the cleaned mussels and put the lid on the pan. Cook for about five minutes and check on them. Stir them. A few of the mussels may have started to open. Replace the lid and cook for another few minutes.
  6. Once most of the mussels have opened, add the butter and replace the lid until melted.
  7. Have a quick taste of the broth and decide if any salt is required.
  8. Serve immediately.

Recipe Notes

***Buy mussels from a reputable source. When cleaning be sure that any partially opened mussels close and remain closed when you squeeze them together. If they do not close discard them.

***After you have finished cooking be sure to discard any mussels that have not opened. They should not be eaten.


  • Abby

    This post made me tear up a little (if you know me, that is a bit unusual). What a beautiful post and summary of our great tradition! I do LOVE your mussels and am so honored and grateful to have called you a friend for so many years! I would be happy to post my salad recipe sometime, a little shout out to a Mithoefer/Morris family tradition on Living the Savory Life.

    Although the distance between us might be vast, when we see each other it is as if no time at all has past – and that is a sign of true and lasting friendship! Oh and the amazing meals you cook doesn’t hurt!

    XOXO, Abby

    • Lauren


      I’ve gotten so much more sentimental over the years. Used to never get teared up at all but now I can cry at the drop of a hat! Dangers of getting older? Let me know when you’re ready for a guest post!

      Hope to see you soon!

  • Pam

    This recipe sounds wonderful!! I just LOVE mussels!!! I will have to try it on my picky husband!!
    Thanks so much for your blog! The photos are gorgeous!
    Have any Australian recipes and no I won’t eat kangaroo!

    • Lauren


      Thanks Pam!! Hope you give it a go. And worst that happens…. If he doesn’t like it…. MORE FOR YOU!! Thanks for checking the blog out. I’ll keep you posted on some Aussie recipes.

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