Mussels with Pastis and tomato cream sauce

I love mussels.. I really do. Once the season is there to eat them I kind of go wild. I make them at home, I eat the in restaurants or I just tag along at my moms table and eat her portion. But to be quite honest… there are only two ways I have ever eaten them. Fried with a golden crispy crust and some lovely tartar sauce and the classic Belgian way to serve them with onion, leeks and carrots accompanied with a little jar of mosselsauce.
While on holiday in France the husband and I tend to eat lunch in local restaurants where there are no tourists and all the townspeople. Its quit an easy thing to do… drive away from the large towns and stop at a cafe/restaurant in some local village. Mostly they have a menu du jour… for about 12 euro you have soup, salad, a main course, dessert and some coffee. For an extra 2 euro you get wine! How lovely is that!
One of those lunches we ended up in a little restaurant with a lovely few on the river and they served mussels marinara.
I got a huge plate of lovely mussels in a divine sauce. I could not resist to dip my bread in it until it has soaked all that lovely goodness.
Back home I tried to look up the recipe for mussels marinara, but I found nothing that looked or resembled the lovely mussels I had in France.
But now that I had seen the other side of mussels I was ready to experiment and this lovely dish is the result of it!


3 kg fresh mussels
2 large onions
3 cloves of garlic
2 tablespoons of olive oil
200 grams of finely sliced carrots and leeks
15 ml op pastis
200 ml cream
mussel herbs (We buy them at our local fish shop.)
150 grams of canned chopped tomatoes
2 teaspoons of herbes de

Wash and clean the mussels. (I do it as followed: clean the mussels, wash them, wash them again and wash them a third time! The cold water opens the mussels a bit and the shaking of your hands pours out the sand and weeds in the mussels.

Now take a large casserole (I use one for soup) and fill it with a layer of mussels, a layer of onions, carrots and leeks and a layer of herbs. Then again a layer of mussels, a layer of vegetables and a layer of herbs. Keep repeating this until all the mussels are in the pot.
Now add some water to the pot… its hard to say how much cause I normally do this by heart. But I would say 300 to 400 ml. Put a lit on the top and put it on a medium high fire for about 10 minutes. Shake the casserole a couple of times so that all the flavours can mingle!

Now take a little pan and heat some olive oil in it on another fire. When the oil is hot, add some onions and the garlic. When it turns golden brown add the pastis and the tomatoes. Stir this well before adding the cream and the herbes des provence. Now let this boil until you get a thick and creamy sauce.
When the mussels are done you take about 150 to 200 ml of the cooking juices and you add it to the cream sauce. Bring to the boil again and season with some pepper and salt.
Place the mussels in a large dish and pour over the cream sauce. Drizzle some fresh parsley over it and serve immediately!


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