mussels — food for the soul!

I have the great fortune to live in the Pacific Northwest, where mussels are truly FRESH! Yesterday a friend brought me mussels just out of the waters of Penn Cove. This time of year the mussels are smaller, still sweet and tender.

We deliberated on how to prepare the mussels and decided to go back to a long-ago, long-loved preparation from days of living in Italy. This recipe is a take-off from a beautiful ristorante in Naples, Italy, Villa Verde, on Lago Verde, and one of the first meals I had when moving to the region in 1983. I just have to share this with you all!

You choose to serve these mussels as an appetizer or a main course — either way, they will warm your soul! Learn more about mussels!

tegamino de cozze

I start with about half a pound of mussels per person, but you may want more! And, be SURE to have loads of great, hearty ready for sopping up the ‘pot liquor’ at the bottom of the plate!

Tegamino de Cozze (Tarragon Mussels)

This was one of the very first meals I had after moving to Naples, Italy oh so many years ago.  It was my introduction to how delicious simply-prepared fresh seafood could be and how the Italians cook — they use only wonderful, fresh ingredients and then let the food taste like the food. This recipe is awesome because of the color, flavor and simplicity in preparation and presentation.

Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 1
Author Ristorante Villa Verde, Napoli Italy


  • 1 pound mussels
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2-3 tablespoons minced carrot
  • 2 tablespoons minced celery
  • 2 tablespoons diced red bell pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1-1/2 cups dry white wine
  • 1 tablespoon fresh tarragon or 1 teaspoon dried
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • ½ cup chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon minced parsley


  1. Scrub mussels and debeard if necessary. Set aside.
  2. In large skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Sauté garlic, onion, carrot, celery and bell pepper with salt until fragrant and vegetables begin to soften. Add wine; raise heat to high. Reduce to one-third original volume. Add tarragon and mussels, stir and cover. Steam until mussels open. Correct seasonings. Serve in shallow bowls, with broth and plenty of bread. Sprinkle with parsley.

Recipe Notes

Note: There are about 20 mussels per pound.  I recommend planning on 1 pound per person for a main course and 1/3-1/2 pound per person for an appetizer serving.

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