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what to do with leftover mussels

leftover mussels

I don’t know if you noticed just how big that bag of mussels was in yesterday’s post. There were more than 140 mussels in it! I steamed them all on Sunday and then made another meal out of the leftover 60 or so mussels for dinner on Monday. I’ll get to the recipe shortly, but first I want to share a new favorite ingredient of mine with you – capers packed in sea salt.

capers in sea salt

Most capers we see in the U.S. are packed in vinegar brine after curing. Often the brine overpowers the wonderful fresh caper flavor. Capers packed in sea salt are more flowery, more like flower buds, which is of course what capers are. The caper plant, Capparis spinosa, can be found all around the Mediterranean Sea and spreads its long, spiny branches over rocks and open into beautiful white flowers with long purple stamens.

I used the capers directly from the jar, with the salt clinging to them, for this recipe. I didn’t use additional salt for the dish, just the salt that was already present on the capers. For a salad or another dish where not as much salt is needed, the capers need to be cleaned of their salt. To do so; cover the salt-packed capers with water. Swish to remove any clinging salt and let stand a minute to let it settle to the bottom. Lift out capers with a sieve, and taste. If still too salty, repeat the process.

I bought the capers while I was in Canada last summer and have looked for them here, but haven’t run across any yet. You can find them easily on Amazon.

Spaghetti with Mussels

Espaguetis con Mejillones (Spaghetti with Mussels)

Approximately 60 leftover steamed mussels
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, peeled and chopped
3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1 teaspoon dried red chile flakes
1/2 cup dry white wine
3 large tomatoes, chopped
2 tablespoons salted capers
1 pound spaghetti, cooked according to package directions

separate it all out

Pull the meat from all but 12 mussels. Set aside the 12 mussels still in the shells to use as garnish.

3 pots

Place the empty shells and all the liquid that was with the leftover mussels in a large skillet. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer, cover and let cook while you prepare the onion and tomato mixture.

In a skillet, heat the olive oil and lightly sauté the onion. When the onions are translucent, add the garlic and chile flakes. Sauté until fragrant.

Add the wine and cook until reduced by about half. Add the tomatoes and capers and bring to a simmer.

drain out shells

Place a colander over the skillet with the onion-tomato mixture and drain the liquid from the skillet with the shells into the pan. Discard the empty shells.

add meat

Add the mussel meat to the pan and heat for about 2 minutes.

add reserved mussels

Now add the 12 reserved mussels in their shells to the skillet and heat through.

Drain the pasta in a colander and divide between 4 warmed pasta bowls. Divide the mussels, sauce, and whole mussels between the 4 bowls of pasta.

Espaguetis con Mejillones

Serves 4

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1 Laura B { 12.29.14 at 6:03 PM }

Whoa. I don’t EVAH do comments…but I felt I needed to here. We did the same thing…5-lb. bag of mussels from Costco, two people…tons of leftovers. I was nervous about how to handle the mussel meat, and this recipe was splendid. Really. Thank you so much!

2 Linda Hopkins { 12.29.14 at 6:13 PM }

Laura, thank you for your comment! I just had another look at this recipe and now I want to make it again! Happy New Year.

3 Martine { 10.21.22 at 10:26 AM }

I happened upon this recipe a couple of years ago and it is a regular on my menu. I absolutely love this dish whether I use store bought mussels or harvest them myself. I am fortunate to live in New Brunswick, Canada where mussels are abundant – lucky me.
Thanks for sharing.

4 Linda Hopkins { 10.25.22 at 6:26 PM }

Lucky You, indeed! Thank you for leaving such a nice comment. Stay warm.

5 Barbara A { 09.18.23 at 2:58 PM }

Originally the mussels were steamed in beer. Not sure about adding wine to that, but go with the other ingredients. Oh also I dont have heavy cream, but I have sour cream. Would that work?

6 Linda Hopkins { 09.19.23 at 7:15 PM }

Barbara, wine will be fine even if the mussels were originally steamed in beer. As for the sour cream, it will still have a nice richness that the cream would provide but there will be a slight tang or sour taste added as well, so as long as you like that flavor (I certainly would) then by all means, sub with sour cream.

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