Garlicky Mussels In a Red Wine Tomato Sauce With Pancetta

Simple, delicious, garlicky mussels in a red wine tomato sauce with pancetta. This Mediterranean seafood dish is healthy and full of flavor. Makes for a great appetizer or even a satisfying dinner!

A plate of musses in a garlicky red wine sauce with tomatoes and pancetta. A piece of bread is also on the plate.

Why You’ll Love Garlicky Mussels In Red Wine Tomato Sauce & Pancetta

  • Mussels are a nutritious, protein-packed, sustainable seafood option.
  • Done in under 30 minutes with prep and even cleanup.
  • Simple ingredients that can be changed out as needed. See my ingredients notes for variations and substitutions below if you’re short on something.

My recipe garlicky mussels in a red wine tomato sauce with pancetta makes for a great appetizer for about 4 people, or a dinner for 2.

Prime mussel season is from October to March and mussels are a very healthy, affordable, and sustainable seafood option. There is no nutritional difference between farmed or wild mussels either, so there are no worries there, and farmed mussels do not make any negative environmental impacts on their surroundings — unlike some other fish farms.

Mussels are extremely nutritious and this accompanying red wine sauce with tomatoes and pancetta take them to a whole other level. The sauce is seriously amazing and can be made spicy or mild by adjusting the amount of red pepper flakes.

If you love this, try some of my other seafood recipes, like smoked trout or Greek grilled octopus.

And try some of my other Mediterranean recipes like Blitva (garlicky potatoes with Swiss Chard), or my detailed guide to making the perfect risotto. Both make for great accompaniments to these mussels.

Ingredients

All of the ingredients needed to make this mussels recipe.
  • Fresh mussels | fresh, properly cleaned (see below for instructions) mussels are best.
  • Pancetta | you can use bacon instead or even guiancale.
  • Garlic | this sauce is very garlicky, you can always lessen the amount if you prefer.
  • Shallots | you can use onions instead if you prefer.
  • Tomato paste | a whole can will be used, it lends a deep tomato flavor and umaminess to the sauce.
  • Red wine | you don’t have to use an expensive wine and the variety doesn’t matter either. Use what you have on hand and prefer. You can even use chicken/beef stock instead.
  • Olive oil | any olive oil will do here.
  • Butter (unsalted) | or you can use more olive oil, but I like the touch of fatty creaminess from butter.
  • Bay leaves
  • Black pepper
  • Red pepper flakes | Adjusted to taste and spiciness levels. Can be omitted entirely.

See recipe card for quantities.

Equipment

You will need a heavy stainless steel stock pot or dutch oven — something with a lid.

Instructions

A few simple ingredients and a short amount of time is all that is needed. Get everything prepped and chopped, sliced, washed, and etc. before beginning to cook.

How To Properly Wash Mussels

  1. Soak the mussels. Soak mussels in a bowl of cold water for twenty minutes. This allows the mussels to expel any extra sediment or sand from inside their shells.
  2. Examine and discard. You only want to cook mussels that are not dead or damaged. Discard cracked shells or mussels that do not close after being tapped or do not stay closed after firmly pressing them together and setting them aside for a minute.
  3. Remove debris. Remove the beards and any mud or other dirst on the outside of the shells.
  4. Final rinse. Under cold running water, give the mussels a final rinse.
A wooden cutting board with diced onions.

Dice your shallots (or onion) and pancetta to this relative size. Larger is fine, but smaller is ideal for the final sauce.

Diced pancetta is added to a large pot with other ingredients.

On medium-low heat, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to heavy stock pot, along with the bay leaves and pancetta (or bacon). Allow the fat to render out, stirring constantly, until they just start to become crisp.

Stirring and cooking the ingredients in side the pot.

Add the diced shallots. Keep stirring and allow the shallots to slowly turn translucent but do not let them burn, they will cook quickly.

Tomato paste is added to the other ingredients.

Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring constantly for about 1 minute to cook out the raw taste of the paste. It should begin to darken in colour, but be careful that it does not burn. Add the second tablespoon of olive oil and stir. If it gets too dry, add a splash of water and keep stirring to combine.

Stirring the tomato paste into the other ingredients.

Add the minced garlic, black pepper, and hot red pepper flakes, and continue to stir constantly until the garlic becomes fragrant, about 1 minute.

The thick red sauce being stirred with a wooden spoon.

Add the wine, the butter, and turn up the heat, bringing everything to a boil.

A close up of the thick red sauce on a wooden spoon.

Immediately add the mussels and stir to coat them in the sauce. Cover with a lid, lower the heat, and steam until your mussels open, about 8 minutes.

Serve immediately with crusty bread.

A plate of mussels next to a plate of sliced sourdough bread.

Hint: Mussels that remain closed after cooking are not dead or dangerous to eat. That is a pervasive myth that has long been debunked. If you can pry open any closed, cooked mussels — they are as delicious and fresh as any other.

Storage & Freezing

Mussels should be eaten as soon as possible after cooking.

Do not freeze leftover mussels and do not refrigerate them for later consumption.

However, any leftover sauce can (and should) be saved. It can be refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 3 months.

A plate of musses in a garlicky red wine sauce with tomatoes and pancetta. A piece of bread is also on the plate.

Top tips

  • Do not overcook or over-steam your mussels, they will shrink significantly.
  • Sauce can be made ahead of time if you wish, it is a delicious versatile sauce that can be frozen and kept on hand too.
  • Can be served with rice too.
  • The shells can also be saved and crushed after eating to use in your garden for a calcium and assorted mineral boost for the soil.

Looking for other recipes like this? Try these:

Pairing

These are my favorite dishes to serve with garlicky mussels in a red wine tomato sauce with pancetta:

A plate of musses in a garlicky red wine sauce with tomatoes and pancetta. A piece of bread is also on the plate.

Garlicky Mussels In a Red Wine Tomato Sauce With Pancetta

Simple, delicious, garlicky mussels in a red wine tomato sauce with pancetta. This Mediterranean seafood dish is healthy and full of flavor. Makes for a great appetizer or even a satisfying dinner!
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 8 minutes
Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: Mediterranean
Keyword: bacon, make ahead, mollusks, mussels, quick dinner, red wine, sauce, seafood
Servings: 4
Calories: 522kcal
Author: Jana Dziak

Ingredients

  • 4 lbs mussels scrubbed
  • ¼ cup pancetta diced small (or bacon)
  • 1 head garlic minced
  • 2 shallots minced
  • 1 can tomato paste
  • 2 cups red wine
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil divided
  • 2 tablespoons butter unsalted
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes adjusted to your taste and spiciness level
  • 2 bay leaves
  • ½ teaspoon Black pepper
  • Parsley to serve, optional

Instructions

  • Wash and prepare your mussels (see notes below) and set them aside.
  • On medium-low heat, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to heavy stock pot, along with the bay leaves and pancetta (or bacon). Allow the fat to render out, stirring constantly, until they just start to become crisp.
  • Add the diced shallots. Keep stirring and allow the shallots to slowly turn translucent but do not let them burn, they will cook quickly.
  • Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring constantly for about 1 minute to cook out the raw taste of the paste. It should begin to darken in colour, but be careful that it does not burn. Add the second tablespoon of olive oil and stir. If it gets too dry, add a splash of water and keep stirring to combine.
  • Add the minced garlic, black pepper, and hot red pepper flakes, and continue to stir constantly until the garlic becomes fragrant, about 1 minute.
  • Add the wine, the butter, and turn up the heat, bringing everything nearly to a boil.
  • Immediately add the mussels and stir to coat them in the sauce. Cover with a lid and steam until your mussels open, about 8 minutes.
  • Garnish with parsley and serve immediately.

Notes

How To Properly Wash Mussels
  1. Soak the mussels. Soak mussels in a bowl of cold water for twenty minutes. This allows the mussels to expel any extra sediment or sand from inside their shells.
  2. Examine and discard. You only want to cook mussels that are not dead or damaged. Discard cracked shells or mussels that do not close after being tapped or do not stay closed after firmly pressing them together and setting them aside for a minute.
  3. Remove debris. Remove the beards and any mud or other dirst on the outside of the shells.
  4. Final rinse. Under cold running water, give the mussels a final rinse.
Mussels that remain closed after cooking are not dead or dangerous to eat. That is a pervasive myth that has long been debunked. If you can pry open any closed, cooked mussels — they are as delicious and fresh as any other.
Storage & Freezing
Mussels should be eaten as soon as possible after cooking.
Do not freeze leftover mussels and do not refrigerate them for later consumption.
However, any leftover sauce can (and should) be saved. It can be refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 3 months.
Top tips
  • Do not overcook or over-steam your mussels, they will shrink significantly.
  • Sauce can be made ahead of time if you wish, it is a delicious versatile sauce that can be frozen and kept on hand too.
  • Can be served with rice too.
  • The shells can also be saved and crushed after eating to use in your garden for a calcium and assorted mineral boost for the soil.

Nutrition

Serving: 1lbs | Calories: 522kcal | Carbohydrates: 23g | Protein: 32g | Fat: 24g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 10g | Trans Fat: 0.3g | Cholesterol: 90mg | Sodium: 1155mg | Potassium: 1413mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 1354IU | Vitamin C: 29mg | Calcium: 97mg | Iron: 11mg
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

More Recipes

5 from 15 votes

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating




18 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I love mussels and this recipe did not disappoint! Rich and savory they were just perfect. Thanks for the inspiration. I need to get back to cooking food that I love, but don’t think to make.

  2. 5 stars
    This recipe has reminded me about how good mussels can be when you cook them at home – I haven’t made them in ages – this recipe has reminded me that I need to! Loving the sound of that sauce, it sounds full of great flavours!

  3. 5 stars
    I never cook mussels at home anymore but I should – not only do I love the flavor, but is it weird that I love the way the sound they make as they knock around the pan? This not only looks so good but you mention guanciale so you’re basically my favorite person.

  4. 5 stars
    Love everything about this, but especially the San Marzano tomatoes – they really do make a difference!

  5. 5 stars
    Mussels are a favorite in our house. It’s one of those meals that I love to make while listening to a record and polishing off the remaining bottle of wine that didn’t go into the dish. The roasted red peppers in this dish sound like the perfect bit of spice to add to this umami rich dish.

  6. 5 stars
    What a gorgeous seafood dinner! The flavor of the bacon, tomato & wine together is a magical combination.

  7. 5 stars
    This flavour combo got me drooling already! Your recipe is so inspiring with so many stand-out flavours in one dish. I love the suggestion of using the sauce in shakshuka base.

  8. 5 stars
    The depth of flavors in that robust sauce!! I am drooling over the ingredients, SO yummy!

  9. 5 stars
    Gorgeous – that sauce though! I can’t wait to try this – I’ll call our fish monger and see if i can get some mussels!

  10. 5 stars
    I’d never thought to try making mussels at home (it always just seemed like a restaurant thing) but this is so helpful! thanks for sharing!

  11. What a wonderful dish that would impress anyone lucky enough to try it! I have never made mussels, but these look perfect!

  12. 5 stars
    Anything with bacon is a winner in my opinion! I have to admit, I’ve never tried mussels, but your recipe has me wanting to try them soon. Thanks for the inspiration – Looks amazingly delicious!

  13. 5 stars
    This is such a stunning dish! I love the wine sauce that goes on top plus the bacon, delicious.