Spicy Mussels Recipe with Kale

Build a healthy immune system with a mineral-rich recipe for spicy mussels.

January/February 2015

  • Farmed mussels are known as an “ocean-friendly” seafood and are easy to raise sustainably.
    Photo by Ian McSpadden

With its combination of high mineral density, a burst of antioxidants from the chilies and kale, and a hefty dose of vitamin B12 and omega-3s, this dish is a winter essential for immune health. Our bodies’ innate defense systems revolve around minerals such as selenium, manganese and zinc—all abundant in this dish.

Spicy Mussels Recipe with Kale


• 2 pounds tightly closed raw mussels
• 1 tablespoon olive oil
• 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
• 1 small chili, such as habanero or serrano, seeds removed, minced
• 1 bunch kale (about 10 ounces), trimmed and thinly sliced (makes about 10 cups)
• 1⁄2 cup white wine
• 1 pound diced tomatoes (about 3 medium tomatoes) or one 15-ounce can
• 1⁄4 teaspoon salt
• 1⁄8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
• 1⁄4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley


1. Soak mussels in a bowl of cold water for 15 to 20 minutes. Put mussels in a colander and rinse under cold running water several times. Discard any mussels that are open. Check each mussel for a threadlike string hanging out of the shell (called the beard). To remove the beard, using a tea towel, take hold of the beard, pull firmly toward the hinge end of the shell, and tug it free.

2. Heat a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add olive oil, garlic and chili. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook for 1 minute, stirring occasionally, until garlic becomes fragrant.

3. Add mussels, kale, wine, tomatoes, salt and pepper. Cover and cook for 3 to 4 minutes more, shaking pan, until mussels open and meat inside is cooked through. Discard any mussels that have not opened. Sprinkle with parsley and serve immediately.

Find more recipes using immune-boosting foods in 14 Foods That Fight Illness.

Drew Ramsey is a Columbia University-trained psychiatrist who specializes in holistic brain health, nutrition and integrative care. He is an assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at Columbia, a farmer, author of The Happiness Diet and 50 Shades of Kale, and most recently, cofounder of National Kale Day. Learn more at his website.

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