Steamed Mussels with White Wine Cilantro Pesto Sauce

While pink was the color of most recipes in February, green is the theme for March, starting with these insanely good Steamed Mussels with White Wine Cilantro Pesto.
Steamed Mussels With White Wine Cilantro Pesto Sauce

I love seafood, fish, shellfish, you name it. If its from the sea I will eat it. Even seaweed.  I think a lot of people are intimidated by shellfish and recipes like steamed mussels or clams are really so easy that once you make them you realize how quick of a meal they are. Being a mom, I am all about quick and healthy meals. And YES my kids totally love eating shellfish, mostly to play with the shells after they eat. Hey whatever gets them to eat, right?

Steamed Mussels With White Wine Cilantro Pesto Sauce

You know what I am excited for? Daylight savings. The first day sucks, especially if its a school day, even though my kids like to wake up ridiculously early, it still sucks for some reason. BUT the great thing about it means more light later in the day and YAY for that. Winter’s shorter daylight is the bane of every food bloggers existence. We scramble to get our recipes and photos done earlier in the day so we have enough natural light and not have to work with dreaded artificial lighting.  Not that lights are that bad, I just don’t like using them. But with the shorter daylight hours in winter, comes making dinner recipes and or cocktail recipes at 10 am. Lunchtime is fun in winter. So are post lunch induced naps.

Steamed Mussels With White Wine Cilantro Pesto Sauce

In winter you either have amazing lunchtime meals, OR dinner is cold and hours old. Some recipes you just can’t or don’t want to eat cold and hours later, like steamed mussles. They are an eat as soon as they are cooked recipe. I think this is why a lot of bloggers make soups and baked goods in winter, they look the same the day after they are made. You can cook or bake at night and photo the next day. No mad scramble to get it all done in one day. Unless you are crazy like me and try photographing when its 5:00 and the streetlights have already turned on and you’re not using lights.  I like to live on the edge

Steamed Mussels With White Wine Cilantro Pesto Sauce

Also if you are crazy like me and scramble to make a recipe with what little light there is left to photo it because you really don’t feel like buying mussels for the 4th time in a month to make again  JUST to photo, you might end up burning half your bread while setting up for photos, making pesto and steaming the mussels. So I would suggest if you are making this recipe to eat and not photograph, buying one baguette should suffice. If you are photographing it, and are not the best multi-tasker cook like me, buy 2-3, maybe 4 baguettes. Just in case, you burn one like I did. Ok so I salvaged like 6 pieces, my kids were mad I burned most of the bread.

Steamed Mussels With White Wine Cilantro Pesto Sauce

I am pretty sure my kids would be A-OK with a dinner of just bread. They are carb monsters. I can’t blame them. Yummy hot crusty bread to dip in the pesto is so good. One of the reasons I love recipes like steamed mussels and or clams. An excuse to mop up all the sauce with good bread, even better when the bread isn’t burnt.

Steamed Mussels With White Wine Cilantro Pesto Sauce


Steamed Mussels with White Wine Cilantro Pesto Sauce

Preparation 20 mins Cook Time 8 mins Serves 2     adjust servings

Steamed Mussels with White Wine Cilantro Pesto Sauce


  • 3 lbs mussels
  • 2 1/2 cups dry white wine ( Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc)

For the Pesto

  • 4 large garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2/3 c walnuts
  • zest and juice of one medium lemon ( about 2 tbsp juice)
  • 3 cups cilantro, rinsed, stems removed
  • 2 cups fresh basil, rinsed and stems removed
  • 1 cup arugula, rinsed
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 2/3 c extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Baguette, sliced and toasted


    Prepare the mussels

    1. Scrub and remove the beards of the mussels and soak in cold water to remove any grit or sand. Change the water a few times until its clear. Leave soaking in cold water while you prepare the pesto. The mussels should close up when gently pressed or once they are placed in the water. Discard any that stay open.

    Make the Pesto:

    1. In a food processor pulse the garlic and walnuts together until crumbly, add in the lemon zest and juice and then the cilantro, basil and arugula. With the processor on mix for about one minute and then slowly add in the oil through the feed tube at the top. Stop after half of the oil is mixed in and scrape down the sides. Turn the processor back on and add in the rest. Taste and season with salt and pepper.

    To make the mussels

    1. Bring 1½ cups of the wine to a boil in a large pot, strain the mussels from their water bath and place in the pot. Cover and let steam 3 minutes. Remove the lid and stir checking to make sure all the mussels have opened. If not steam another 1-2 minutes and then quickly removed them from the pot. Discard any that didn’t open. Add the rest of the wine and bring back to a boil, add in 1 cup of the pesto and stir until starting to thicken. Add the mussels back in and stir for 2 minutes. Transfer to bowls and ladle sauce over the top. Serve hot with toasted baguettes.


    Recipe Notes

    I left out the parmesan in the pesto on purpose since I like it better without cheese when I use it with seafood. Feel free to add in ½-1 cup of shredded parmesan or romano cheese to the pesto before adding to the wine in the pot.
    To make this TRUE Paleo/Gluten Free omit the bread and steam the mussels in chicken broth.


    Steamed Mussels With White Wine Cilantro Pesto Sauce


    This recipe is in memory of Shelly. The name my 5 year old gives to each and every mussel that I use in recipes such as steamed mussels. I asked her if she wanted to name them each something different, and she said ” Nope. Name them all Shelly”. My kids are crazy.

    Related Posts :

    Speak Your Mind