Grilled mussels with basil

Serves 4


  • 4 dozen large mussels
  • 1 bunch fresh basil, leaves picked from stalks, blanched for 30 seconds and refreshed
  • 4 fat garlic cloves, peeled
  • 50-80 mk olive oil, as good as the budget will allow
  • 2 large tomatoes, seeded and finely chopped
  • Finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 50 g dried break crumbs
  • Freshly ground black pepper


  • Preheat your grill to high
  • Debeard and wash your mussels, throwing away any that are cracked or that are open and don’t close when you give them a little tap.
  • Get a big, preferably shallow pan with a tight fitting lid and put the mussels in.
  • Pour over a little water, put the lid on top and make sure it fits snugly before boiling the mussels over your highest heat, just giving them the odd shake, for a few minutes. You want the mussels only just open as you will be cooking them a second time.
  • Remove and discard any mussels that do not open at all, and strain the liquid to use in one of the ways I have suggested above
  • Puree the basil and garlic with the olive oil in your food processor to a thick paste, then add the tomatoes, lemon zest and juice, breadcrumbs and some pepper.
  • Smear this over the top of the mussels and grill them until they are sizzling and crispy around the edges


The rich, aromatic juice can be used later for braising potatoes or, to make more of a meal of things, you could make some extra pistou and mix it with the juices for a broth to serve either just before or after the mussels

Recipe by Alex Mackay and photo by Peter Knab