Mussel pilaki

Mussel pilaki

Lisa Cohen and William Meppem

Pilaki are slow-braised dishes made with olive oil and tend to be served cold with plenty of crusty bread to mop up the rich sauce. This wonderfully garlicky mussel pilaki is one of our favourites. Make sure you use good tasty tomatoes.


Quantity Ingredient
36 mussels, cleaned and bearded
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, finely diced
6 garlic cloves, cut in half
1 carrot, scraped and cut into 1 cm dice
1 potato, peeled and cut into 1 cm dice
2 sticks celery, cut into 1 cm dice
1 large vine-ripened tomato, skinned and chopped
1 tablespoon tomato paste
250ml * crab stock [rid:10019]
or 250ml * chicken stock [rid:9962]
or 250ml water
2 sprigs thyme
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 lemon, juiced
2 tablespoons dill, chopped
1/3 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped
lemon wedges, to serve


  1. To prepare the mussels, soak them in a sink or large bowl of warm water for about 10 minutes, then drain. To open the mussels, use a small sharp knife and work over a large bowl to catch and reserve the juices. Hold each mussel by its narrow end, with the ‘pointed’ edge facing outwards. Insert the knife between the two shells near the large rounded top and cut through the mollusc where it is attached. You should then be able to prise the shells open and slip the mussel meat into another bowl. When you’ve opened all the shells, strain the collected juices and set aside.
  2. Heat the oil in a heavy-based saucepan, then sauté the onion and garlic for 5–10 minutes, until soft. Add the carrot, potato, celery, tomato and tomato paste and sauté for a few more minutes, then stir in the reserved mussel juices, stock, thyme, sugar and pepper. Cook over a low heat for 20–25 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender and the sauce is thick.
  3. Stir the mussels into the sauce gently. Squeeze on the lemon juice and cook for around 4 minutes, then stir in the dill and half the parsley. Remove from the heat and leave to cool. When cold, refrigerate until ready to serve. Eat within the day as part of a mezze selection, sprinkled with the remaining parsley and served with lemon wedges.
Middle Eastern
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