Healthy, Sea food, Starter

Mussels and pesto French gratin

In France we love mussels. The most typical recipe is undoubtly the “moules marinières” that we eat with French fries. This recipe is also very much appreciated in the south of France.

It’s an excellent, cheap and convenient starter for a summer time dinner: you can prepare it in advance and just grill it at the very last moment 🙂

Moreover this recipe is really a treasure in terms of nutrition: mussels, garlic, olive oil, pine seeds and fresh herbs are the key ingredients of this recipe. Mussels are high in proteins and very rich in calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc and selenium. Garlic and pine seeds are also very rich in different mineral salts, vitamins and are two great health protectors. Not to speak about olive oil…

Mussels and pesto gratin recipe

For 4 servings


  • Preparation: 30 min
  • Grill: 3 min
  • Total: 33 min


Key preparation:

  • 36 large cleaned and debearded mussels
  • 7 tablespoons dry white wine
  • 4 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 chopped garlic clove
  • 2 tablespoons breadcrumbs
  • 4 tablespoons virgin olive oil
  • Chopped fresh basil

For the pesto:

  • 2 large and chopped garlic cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (large grains)
  • 3.53 oz (100 g) chopped basil leaves
  • 0.88 oz (25 g) chopped pine seeds
  • 1.76 oz (50g) fresh grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup (12 cl) virgin olive oil


Mussel is a living seafood. For food safety they must absolutely remain alive till cooking. Otherwise it could be dangerous and risky for your health. Be careful, don’t take any risk and follow the instructions below before cooking them!

Buy them at the very last moment before preparing them. Eventually you can store them for a few hours in the fridge (at the fruit & vegetables level).

Before cooking, look over the mussels carefully. The mussels should be tightly closed. Discard any mussels with cracked shells. If you see a mussel that is open, tap it gently against the counter; in a live mussel, this will trigger a reaction to close its shell. If the mussel doesn’t close, it has died and should be discarded. Throw any mussels that don’t open after cooking.

Follow this simple advice: before cooking, shells closed; after cooking, shells open.

  • Put the mussels (cleaned and debearded) and the wine into a cooking pot.
  • Cover and cook at high fire during 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from fire.
  • Mussels should be widely open. Throw away all the mussels that are closed or empty
  • Keep the juice and filter it
  • Lay the mussels into a large oven-proofed dish. Organize them in the dish on one single level face up
  • Prepare the pesto: mix or crush roughly together the ingredients of the pesto (garlic, basil, pine seeds, salt, olive oil, Parmesan cheese). You should get a thick consistency
  • Generously share the pesto on top of the shelves
  • Add the chopped parsley, chopped garlic, breadcrumbs and olive oil on each mussel
  • Preheat the grill and let grill the mussels with pesto for about 3 minutes
  • Decorate with the basil leaves and serve immediately with crunchy bread
  • Enjoy!

Wine pairing with mussels and pesto gratin

You will particularly appreciate your mussels with pesto with a dry white wine such as a Mâcon Chardonnay, Burgundy Vézelay or even a Muscadet.

If you prefer a rosé, it will be also very good!


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