Mussels in Tomato Sauce 

(“Mitili al Pomidoro”) 

(“Cozze ca Sarsa ri  Pumaroro”) 


At Joe’s on Avenue U, the mussels in a light tomato sauce were served as an entrée, with Sicilian style hot bread. 

In Palermo, the mussels are also cooked in tomato sauce and mostly served with crusty bread as a first course, instead of pasta, or if the mussels are taken out of their shell and mixed into the sauce, they turn into an exceptional condiment for spaghetti.  

Prepare the tomato sauce ahead of time. 

To cook the “Mussels in Tomato Sauce” you must sauté them, as per the following recipe. When you sauté the mussels and before the wine is added to the pot, check the bottom of the saucepan and if there is any sand, remove the mussels with a slatted spoon, and set aside. It rarely happens, however if it does, sauté more oil and garlic, transfer the mussels into the pot, discard any that remain unopened and proceed with the recipe. 

Serve 4 



  • 1 can 14 oz peeled tomatoes 
  • 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil  
  • ¼ small onion finely chopped 
  • 5 leaves of fresh basil, hand shredded 
  • pinch of oregano 
  • 3 lbs mussels, cleaned  
  • 1 cups dry white wine  
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil  
  • 3 garlic cloves, sliced 
  • pinch of hot red pepper (Optional) 
  • pinch of oregano 
  • salt and pepper, to taste  
  • fresh parsley, chopped for garnish  






The Sauce 

Place in a small saucepan, 2 tablespoons of oil and heat until it ripples, add the onion and sauté over medium heat until golden. In a dish, squash the tomatoes with you hands and add to the frying onions. Check for salt, add the basil, oregano and pepper to taste; bring to a boil and simmer for 15 to 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.   

Cool mixture and carefully place tomato sauce in a vegetable mill if you wish to remove any seeds. Set aside.  

At Joe we did not remove the seeds. 


Mussels in Tomato Sauce


The Mussels 


Wash the mussels, and set aside. 

In a 4 quart saucepan place 3 tablespoons of olive oil and the garlic; turn the heat to high and as soon as the garlic is fragrant add the mussels, and a quarter cup of water. Cook for a few minutes, shaking occasionally until all mussels are open. Discard any unopened mussels.  

Still at a high heat, proceed by adding the wine, a pinch of oregano and a generous pinch of peperoncino, hot red pepper and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, add the sauce, lower the  heat to a slow boil and simmer for 5 minutes 

Prepare in advance some toasted Italian crusty bread; with a slatted spoon transfer the mussels into a serving platter, spoon the sauce over them, garnish with chopped parsley and offer the bread on the side.  

Pare this delicious dish with a young California Merlot or a Sicilian Nero di Avola.