top of page
  • Writer's pictureLydia Gerratt

Mussel gratin with garlic, parsley and lemon zest

Mussel gratin with a garlic, parsley and lemon zest crust

It’s spring, which means that the days of eating in-season fresh mussels are numbered….. By the end of April you won’t be able to find those black shiny nets of Scottish mussels in the supermarket and fishmongers. So I’m planning on getting my last few mouthfuls now.

I LOVE mussels but after my tenth dish of spaghetti alle cozze I want a new recipe and mussel gratin is ridiculously tasty, easy and fast.

This dish is cheap too. 1kg of fresh mussels is £3.80 for a net of pure joy!

I cooked this recipe up at the weekend with my little boys – they always eat more when they’ve done the cooking.

Miraculous ingredient: fresh mussels, white wine, fresh white bread, extra virgin olive oil

Mussel gratin with garlic, parsley and lemon zest


A net of fresh mussels aprox. 1kg (in season from mid September to April)

½ glass of white wine (the alcohol does burn off during cooking)

2 cloves of garlic, cut in half

25g fresh parsley, stalks removed

2 thick slices of fresh white bread, crusts removed and cut into small pieces

zest of ¼ lemon

extra virgin olive oil to drizzle


Remove the little beards from each mussel by pulling hard, wash the mussels under cold running water and place in a large sauce pan. Pour in the white wine and clamp on the lid. Place the sauce pan on a medium heat and cook for approximately 5 minutes. During the cooking time turn the mussels with a wooden spoon, so the mussels at the top of the pan move to the bottom and are in contact with the heat.

The mussels will be done when all the shells are fully open and the mussel meat has come away from the sides of the shell to form plump little ovals. Don't be tempted to keep cooking as this will only make the mussels shrivel up and dry out. When the mussels are cooked, lift them out with a slotted spoon into a bowl and leave to one side to cool.

Pour the mussel juice from the sauce pan into a measuring jug and leave to one side to settle. This step is important. Any 'grit' from the mussels will float down to the bottom of the jug so when you use the juice to add back into the mussel shells before grilling you can make sure the 'grit' doesn't end you in your final dish.

While you leave the mussels to cool slightly, prepare the herb crust. Put the garlic, parsley and lemon zest into a mini chopper or food processor and whizz until finely chopped. Add all the bread and whizz again until all the ingredients are in tiny pieces for the herb crust.

Turn the grill heat to high. Carefully open each mussel and break off one half of the shell and discard. Lay the remaining mussel shell half with its mussel on the grill pan. Pour a small amount of mussel juice into each shell. I use the children’s Calpol syringe as it’s a super fast way to get the right amount of juice into each shell without making a mess!

Add ½ teaspoon of the herb crust mix to each shell. Drizzle all the shells generously with extra virgin olive oil and place the pan under the hot grill. Grill for a few minutes until the crust starts to turn light brown. Remove from the grill and serve.

Preparation time 15 minutes, cooking 7 minutes, serves 4

bottom of page