On Prince Edward Island, Mussel Mania 2014 is having a home chef contest. I cooked up these tasty Italian Mussels last night.
I used a lot of local ingredients. Italian sausage from Mike's Queen St. Meat Market, mussels from the seafood market at Eden's Gate Restaurant, green onions and spinach from Balderston's Farm Market, and basil from my garden.
1/2 finely chopped onion
2 tsp. olive oil
One Italian Sausage link (about 4 oz.)
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp. italian seasoning
1 tsp. dried red peppers (or more)
1/2 cup red or white wine (or broth)
16 oz. marinara sauce
1 heaping Tbl. pesto
One large handful fresh spinach
1-2 lbs. PEI Mussels
Fresh basil for garnish
Sliced crusty bread
Heat a large dutch oven over medium high heat and add olive oil. Add the chopped onion (I had some green onions that were almost the size of small shallots so I used the white part of the green onions) and cook for 3 minutes. Remove sausage meat from casing and add to dutch oven and cook 5 minutes, breaking into small pieces as it cooks. Add the garlic, italian seasoning and dried red peppers; cook for 2 more minutes. Add wine to deglaze the pan (you can use broth or even beer, or just skip this step). Add marinara sauce and pesto to dutch oven, cover with a lid, and turn heat to low. Allow to simmer about 30 minutes for flavors to marry, stirring occasionally. If it starts to burn or dry out too much, add a little more wine. You want the sauce to be fairly thick because the mussels will release their liquid. Turn the heat to medium and bring sauce to a light boil. Add the handful of spinach and mussels, cover with a lid, and cook for 8-10 minutes, or until mussels until all mussels are opened (discard any that do not open). Serve sprinkled with fresh basil and bread to soak up all the sauce.