Cozze e Limone -- Mussels and Lemon




4 to 5 lbs. mussels, live, in shell
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1/4 cup white wine
3 tbsp. water
2 lg. lemons
1-1/2 tbsp. chopped parsley
Black pepper, freshly ground
1 md. lemon, sliced


Preparation of mussels:
Remove the beard that usually is attached to the mussel, if the fishmonger has not already done so. Scrub the mussels with a stiff brush and rinse well under cold water. Place all the scrubbed mussels in a large bowl and cover with fresh cold water. Let mussels stand about an hour in the cold water.

Drain the mussels, discarding any mussels that have open shells. Put the mussels in a large saucepan with the garlic, wine and water. Cook, covered, on high for about 5-6 minutes, or until the shells open. Discard any that have not opened. Drain, reserving the liquid.

Peel the lemons, and divide into sections. Discard any pits or pith. In a clean pan, put the mussels, lemon sections, reserved liquid, parsley and a liberal amount of freshly ground pepper. Cover and simmer for about 5 minutes more. Serve with the liquid for dipping, and the lemon slices as decoration.

Author's Comments

Just thinking of the recipe has memories of my childhood flooding back. I recall many a summer month spent in the driveway of a neighbor Mr. Campagnino, and his family. Between the two households, and any other people who may drop by, at least 25-35 people would sit around a long table eating mussels, snails, clams, oyster, crab . . . etc!

That was my introduction to simply prepared shellfish, by Sicilians, “fresh off the boat”. Snails cooked live with bubbling tomato sauce, linguine with crab sauce, clams on the half shell. And the Vino!! Mr Campagnino pressed his own grapes each fall. By summer the wine was bottled and decanted. Great stuff that “Dago Red”, not available too much now. He also grew some of his own red wine grapes that us kids would eat by the pound, squeezing out the sugary pulp and discarding the tough skins.

From my cookbook: The "Old Country" Italian Cookbook, by Donald J.P. La Marca

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