Steamed Mussels with Scallion Pumpernickel Toast

Yield: Serves 4

The old guideline of eating mussels and oysters only during the months with an R holds true for the most part, but now there are good mussels available into the early part of June. We recommend using only small black mussels; the Prince Edward Island variety are usually quite good. Stay away from the green-lipped mussels; they are tough and flavorless compared to the black ones.

Mussels must be purchased live. Any that are open and don't close up when you poke at them are dead; don't buy them. You want to select live mussels as if you were picking fruit, choosing the consistent-looking individuals that are heavy for their size and shiny, avoiding any that are broken.

This dish is a very quick appetizer, but it can be easily increased into a hearty main course. Simply add 1 extra pound of mussels and, at the end, 1 cup of cooked cannellini beans to the broth with the tomatoes, and heat it through a little longer.


  • 30 scallion (about 3 bunches), trimmed
  • 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 slices good pumpernickel bread, 1/4 inch thick
  • 3 pounds small black mussels
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 large garlic cloves, peeled and minced (2 teaspoon)
  • 1 large shallot, peeled , trimmed, and minced (1 tablespoon)
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup Fish Stock or Chicken Stock
  • 2 medium tomatoes, cored, seeded, and chopped (1 cup)
  • 1/4 stick (1 ounce) unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
  • 1 tablespoon chopped lemon zest
  • Juice of 1/2 medium lemon
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly cracked black pepper


The Fish Stock or Chicken Stock, warm, in a small saucepan over low heat.

Coarsely chop the scallions. Pour the olive oil into a blender, add the chopped scallions, and process until combined. Using a pastry brush, brush the scallion oil over the slices of bread and toast them under the broiler just until the edges begin to brown. Cut each slice in half, arrange 2 halves in each of the 4 large soup bowls and set aside.

Scrub the mussels well under cold running water and then remove the beard found on the side of each mussel. Do not use any mussels that have broken or opened shells. In a large sé pan, over medium heat, preheat the vegetable oil. Sé the garlic and shallot about 1 minute. Add the mussels and gently toss to coat with the garlic and shallots, about 1 minute. Add the wine and stock. Bring to a boil, cover, and steam until the shells open, about 3 to 5 minutes. After the majority of the mussels have opened, remove the opened ones to the soup bowls, placing them on top of the toast. Continue to cook any unopened mussels for 1 additional minute to determine if any more will open. remove any opened mussels to the soup bowls, and discard any unopened mussels. When all the mussels have been removed, add the chopped tomatoes and butter to sé pan and cook just until the butter melts, about 1 minute. remove the pan from the heat. Stir in the chopped herbs and lemon zest, and season to taste with the lemon juice, kosher salt, and black pepper.

Splash the broth equally over the mussels and toast in the bowls, ensuring that the herbs and tomatoes are distributed evenly. Serve immediately.

Recipe from Mark Peel & Nancy Silverton's The Food of Campanile
© 1997 by Mark Peel & Nancy Silverton. All rights reserved