Oven Grilled Greenshell Mussels with Arabiatta Sauce and Aged Cheddar

4:14 am on 15 December 2009

Grilling mussels are such a wonderful way to eat this iconic New Zealand shellfish. Again the combinations are pretty much limitless. Garlic, butter and leafy summer herbs always work a treat. Pork products such as bacon, prosciutto, spicy salami also all partner up with our humble mussel beautifully. Arabiatta sauce is a spicy tomato and toasted garlic sauce made with a good amount of red wine and port. It works beautifully matched with good quality sharp aged cheddar. Cooking mussels this way also works well when entertaining, as everything is set up ahead of time, and it’s just a case of cooking them under the grill and serving.

‘Go Figure?’…. When browning the garlic in the method below, you will mellow out a lot of the astringent garlic flavour and add a terrific toasted character to any dish.

Step 1: Arabiatta Sauce

Makes enough for 60+ mussels on the half shell


  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 2 Tbl fresh garlic (minced fine)
  • ½ tsp chili flakes
  • ½ cup port
  • ½ cup red wine
  • 2 x 400gm tins whole peeled tomatoes (blitzed to a puree)
  • 2 Tbl tomato paste
  • 1 Tbl sugar
  • 25gms butter
  • Sea salt and fresh black pepper


In a heavy bottomed medium sized saucepan add the olive oil and place on medium heat. Add the garlic and chili flakes. Stir continuously with a wooden spoon watching the garlic starting to change colour. Once the garlic takes on a nice dark golden hue, immediately add the port and red wine. Be mindful that as you add the alcohol it will spit and bubble for a few seconds.

Cook the wine down for five minutes then add the blitzed tomatoes, tomato paste and sugar. Turn down the heat and cook for another 15 to 20 minutes until the sauce is nice and thick. Remove from the heat, whisk in the butter, taste and season accordingly.

Cool to room temp then refrigerate until required.

Step 2: Preparing the Mussels


  • 60 fresh mussels
  • 2 cups white wine or water
  • Arabiatta sauce
  • 400gm Aged Cheddar or similar (grated)
  • ½ cup fresh parsley (roughly chopped)


De-beard the fresh mussels by pulling away the hairy beard exposed between the tightly closed two shells. Place the mussels in a large suitable saucepan and pour over the wine or water if you prefer. Cover and place on high heat. The mussels are cooked once they all open up. Discard any that fail to open.

Strain the mussels through a colander, then spread onto a tray to cool. Once cold, remove the top half of each shell and dispose. Next carefully prise away the cooked mussel from the white cartilage, then lay it back in the belly of the shell. Repeat with the rest then, lay them all out on a tray.

Take the arabiatta sauce and spoon a good amount over each mussel. Take the grated cheese and top the sauce with liberal amounts of that. Refrigerate until ready to cook.

To cook and serve

Preheat your oven grill.

Lay the Arabiatta mussels out on an oven tray, then place under the grill. Cook for 2 or 3 minutes until the cheese is melted and slightly golden. Pull the tray from the oven and arrange the mussels on a platter. Sprinkle over the fresh parsley and serve to your delighted guests!

Green Shell Mussels

Scientific Name : Perna Canaliculus
Maori Name: Kuku, Kutai
Substitute: Blue Mussels, Tuatuas

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