Garlicky Mussels with Fregola

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mussels with fregolaWell I’m officially “turkeyed out” until next year so it’s time to change it up here with a nice pot of mussels! Did you know that mussels are an inexpensive, sustainable shellfish that gives a boost to your immune system and your brain? Many people shy away from mussels thinking they taste fishy, to the contrary, if you buy them fresh from a good source they have a nice clean meaty flesh and smell just like the ocean plus they take on all the flavors that you use to cook with them.

Mussels are not just for special occasions like Christmas Eve, they can be a very quick dinner in the middle of the week or the weekend and it amazes me just how inexpensive they are, even at my Whole Foods when not on sale I can get them for 4.99 a pound and they’re even cleaned and debeard! Just make sure to grab a good bottle of wine while you’re there, sipping wine and eating mussels go hand and hand.
fregola I normally make my mussels with a sauce that has lots of shaved garlic, white wine, red pepper, a few ladles of marinara or cherry tomatoes and that’s it, sometimes pasta on the side sometimes not. This time I made it with Fregola, the Italian version of Israeli couscous. Fregola comes from Sardinia, it’s a firmer semolina pasta shaped like little pearls that has a toasted and nutty flavor. mussels with fregola This is rustic eating at it’s best, my favorite. Just put the pan in the middle of the table, have plenty of napkins, your wine close at hand, a separate bowl for your shells, and dig in!mussels with fregola The juice of the mussels, the garlic, wine and tomatoes is what flavors the Fregola pasta, every bite is a delight! mussels with fregolamussels with fregola

A little crusty bread on the side for sopping up doesn’t hurt either!

Garlicky Mussels with Fregola
  • 2 lbs mussels, fresh, cleaned and debeard ( May substitute all clams or a mix of both)
  • 5 cloves garlic, shaved ( shaving the garlic is a must!)
  • 12 cherry tomatoes sliced, or a couple of ladles of homemade marinara
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • ½ cup or so, white wine
  • ⅓ cup of olive oil, extra for finish drizzle
  • 1½ cup of pre-cooked Fregola, according to package. ( May substitute Israeli couscous)
  • chopped parsley for garnish
  1. In a large pan with sides and lid combine olive oil, all the shaved garlic and red pepper flakes until golden on medium heat, then add tomatoes.
  2. Add mussels with the white wine, stir to get them coated then increase the heat to high and cover with a lid.
  3. Cook until all the mussels are open, about 5 minutes.
  4. Spoon in the pre-cooked Fregola, coating it with the sauce.
  5. Add chopped fresh parsley all over the top plus an extra drizzle of olive oil.
  6. Serve immediately.
  7. Discard any unopened shellfish!
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  1. This looks divine. I have some of that toasted fregola in the cupboard and have used it recently, but not in a dish this wonderful. This brings back memories of being in Sardinia and cooking fish heads and fregola on a small boat anchored off the coast. Oh, what you’ve done, Marie – it’s glorious!

  2. Why do I never make mussels at home? I love them, and I also love fregola, so this is a win win.
    Also the addition of cherry tomatoes is brilliant.
    Maybe I’ll bite the bullet and buy some mussels!

  3. Looks amazing!! One question though…never made “shaved garlic” If you don’t have a mandolin, how do you do this??

    • Carol you can just slice it real thin with a paring knife.

    • wes mckewin says

      These slicers are great to have . Mine is by MIU of France ,as is my mandolin. Huge difference in price ,but same great results.My garlic slicer was around 5.00 when has gone up but right now everyone seems to be out of them, however I did find what appears to be a comp. on Amazon @7.00. P>S> what I love is to make garlic “chips”…slice and fry VERY briefly to crisp [don’t let them color much or they get bitter ] and use the chips to cook with or garnish , the flavor mellows a bit, kind of like roasting. Great on potatoe/leek or mushroom soups and many more,also on quiches fresh out of the oven . Not many gizmos are worthwhile, but even “COOKS ILLUSTRATED” enjoyed it.

      • wes mckewin says

        The brand name at Amazon of the comp. is Hutzler and it appears that it will do the same job

      • Wes, I have a rotary garlic shaver that I bought at Williams Sonoma for around 15.00, it’s my favorite kitchen tool, you can’t find them anymore, I will check on Amazon like you said. Your crispy version as a garnish sounds wonderful!

  4. This looks wonderful. Mussels are a favorite for a friend of mine. I am sending it to him, he will be over the moon.

  5. Here’s the secret to getting that garlic GOODFELLAS thin! “In prison, dinner was always a big thing. We had a pasta course, then we had a meat or a fish. Paulie was doing a year for contempt and had a wonderful system for garlic. He used a razor and sliced it so thin it would liquefy in the pan with a little oil. It’s a very good system.”

  6. I recently bought a bag of fregola with nothing particular in mind what to do with it…but now I know exactly what to do with it – thanks!

  7. MMMMMMmmmmm…I can almost taste this right through the computer screen! I love mussels and all shellfish. I t is harder to find them here in this mountain state, and they are more expensive, but well worth it. I also like fregola –this was a brilliant idea to pair them together as you can eat the broth like soup!

  8. I can’t wait to try this – getting sooo hungry just reading the recipe!

  9. Muscles are quite inexpensive here as well, and I have some fregola waiting for its moment to shine also.

  10. Oh my god this looks so wonderful. I’ve never cooked mussels because of where I live, bit they’re one of my favorite things to order. Beautifully stunning photos!

  11. Cookieyordon says

    Perfect dish for my Christmas Eve dinner! Making my mouth water just looking at those mussels. I love the PEI, Prince Edward Island farmed mussels. They are so plump & sweet. Thanks for being such an inspirational cook!

  12. I order mussels in a few of my favorite restaurants whenever I get the chance, and this recipe has me inspired to try them at home. Pinned.

  13. Denise Brosch says

    OH does this look like a Christmas Eve dish or what? Ok so maybe I cannot wait till Christmas Eve…how about this weekend? Looks luscious!

  14. It looks delicious. Where can you get Fregola?

  15. Yum, yum — the fregola is perfect for sopping up the juices.

  16. That REALLY looks good and tasty. Love mussels, and this will be a recipe to try. Thanks for the idea!

  17. Denise Lamb says

    This looks delicious. Don’t know if I will be able
    to find the fregola but I guess I could use couscous.

    Marie: Are you in the area of the new Eataly in
    Chicago? There is one in NYC but we never get
    into the city. Just curious if you will be going
    there. Would love to hear what you think about it.

    My son and his girlfriend suprised me the first
    year that they were open with a bag of groceries
    from the store. Hope to maybe some day my
    husband and I will attempt to drive into the


    • Yes I am Denise and I can’t wait to go, I’m waiting for the lines to go down a bit I don’t feel like standing in the cold around the block to get in. I will tell you all about it!!

  18. I see mussels in my fish market but never think to buy them for some reason. And they are harvested right here on the Oregon coast. You have tempted me with this recipe, Marie, and I think I’ll try it this weekend. I love to find a new recipe for a local ingredient.

  19. I have such fond memories of picking mussels at Nahant Beach (Boston area) when I was a kid. My mother would make a marinara sauce with the mussels (lots of garlic and parsley, of course) and serve with spaghetti. I’m salivating thinking of it now. Believe it or not, I have never had Fregola before–where has it been all my Italian life?! I must rectify that. My husband and I had the pleasure of exploring Eataly in Chicago a couple of days ago. If I had known about Fregola, I would have looked for it there because they surely would have had it. I can’t imagine a single Italian food item that they don’t offer. Eataly is an amazing Italian emporium, and you must go there as soon as you have a chance!

    • I just went there today Fran, what a place, loved it but I’m not going back until after the holidays, it was elbow to elbow! I’m sure you will find fregola there.

  20. I made this tonight and it was wonderful!!! Thanks for the recipe!