Dinner Tonight: Mussels with Tomato Broth and Penne

It began its life as a pizza sauce, nothing more than some canned tomatoes, a slug of red wine and olive oil, and some salt. After all the dough was used, I poured the bright red liquid into a plastic container and moved it to the back of the fridge. In the old days (probably a year ago) I would have forgotten about it until a week later when I’d open it up, give it smell, and then wash it down the drain.

But no longer. Ever since I discovered eggs in purgatory, I’ve never had a problem with getting rid of leftover tomato sauce. The recipe is dead simple (sauce and eggs), but tastes far more complex. It is my go-to recipe whenever I have the chance. But for the sake of shaking things up, I decided to see what other simple recipes awaited some leftover tomato sauce.

It would have made a nice, if boring, sauce for pasta. I just wanted to add another dimension to the dish without having to work too hard for it. And nothing spells a cheap, flavorful meal like mussels. For some reason I still had pasta on the mind, probably because I didn’t have any bread to dip into the glorious broth, so I dumped in a load of penne into the mix. It worked. All the liquid in the mussels leaked into the tomatoes, making my three day old sauce taste surprisingly fresh and vibrant. The penne soaked up the goodness, making for a filling and dead cheap meal.

Dinner Tonight: Mussels with Tomato Broth and Penne

About This Recipe


  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup dry white wine or vermouth
  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • 4 pounds mussels, debearded and scrubbed


  1. 1

    Pour the oil into a large pot turn the heat to medium-low. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook for 2 minutes.

  2. 2

    Dump in the wine, turn the heat to high and boil for 2 minutes.

  3. 3

    Add the tomato sauce and mussels, turn the heat down to medium-high, and cook until all the mussels have opened. It will take about 6-8 minutes.

  4. 4

    Meanwhile, bring another large pot of water to boil. Cook the penne according to package directions. Drain and toss with the mussels.


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