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Mussels Saganaki

Taverna-Style Mussels Saganaki

Course Appetizer, dinner
Keyword Cayenne Pepper, Serrano Pepper
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Calories 369kcal


  • 4 cayenne peppers finely chopped, seeds and all (red serrano peppers work as well and provide less heat)
  • 1 pound half-shell mussels the blanched, frozen variety is just fine. No need to defrost them, and that amount will yield about 8 mussels per person
  • 2 yellow onions medium-sized, peeled and chopped into 1/8 inch dice
  • 4 cloves garlic peeled and finely sliced
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 tomatoes skinned, roughly chopped, all their juice reserved (together, the two tomatoes should weigh about 8 ounces)
  • 12 cherry tomatoes halved
  • 1 large green bell pepper halved, de-seeded and chopped into 3/4 inch, chunky dice
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 heaped teaspoon brown sugar
  • 16 black olives putted, well rinsed, drained, and halved
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 heaped teaspoons fresh oregano leaves stripped from the stalks and finely chopped
  • 1/2 ounce fresh parsley very finely chopped, stalks and all. Plus a 1/4 ounce or so to garnish
  • 1/2 ounce fresh dill finely chopped, stalks and all. Plus a 1/4 ounce or so to garnish.
  • 2 1/2 cups fish stock one good, high-end fish stock cube diluted in boiling water does the trick for me
  • 6 ounces feta cheese sticks drained


  • Set a good-size saucepan over medium heat and add the olive oil. Stir in the onions and the salt, drop the heat to low, cover the pan, and let the onions soften – but not color - for about 8 minutes with the occasional stir. Adding the salt early on helps this softening, and it also pulls out the onions’ flavor.
  • Now add the chilies, garlic, oregano, parsley, bay leaves, tomato paste, black pepper, and sugar. Stir well and let the mix cook on that low heat for another 5 minutes. Add the chopped round tomatoes and all their juice, stir well and let the pan come to a slow simmer. Then stir in the green pepper, cover the pan and let the mix cook for 5 minutes on that low heat. You’re aiming here for bell pepper to become just barely al dente.
  • Add the stock and turn the heat to high. As soon as the sauce begins to boil, drop the heat to low so you get a slow, rolling simmer in the pan.
  • Now gently stir in the frozen mussels and the cherry tomatoes. Let the pan come back to that rolling simmer and continue to cook for 3 minutes. Stir in the dill and remove from the heat. Check for saltiness and add more to your taste. Done.
  • Serve in generous, warmed bowls, and crumble the feta in chunks on top. Garnish with a little dill and parsley - and maybe a few black olives.


Drinks. I’d be fairly specific here. A sparkling dry white or a fruity rosé - they both suit the dish and its ambience.


Calories: 369kcal | Carbohydrates: 20g | Protein: 19g | Fat: 25g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Cholesterol: 54mg | Sodium: 2036mg | Potassium: 898mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 1936IU | Vitamin C: 65mg | Calcium: 342mg | Iron: 5mg