The true recipe of the stuffed mussels

There is a bitter confrontation as it happens for any tradition, even on stuffed mussels (traditional food of La Spezia). In particular, people don’t agree about the mortadella ham ingredient. Is it necessary for the success of the recipe or not?

Mussels are a very typical product of the La Spezia sea. Their breeding diffused in the 19th century thanks to the many Apulia fishers who moved to La Spezia then.

As we have done for the panigacci, testaroli, and sgabei, let’s dig into the matter further.


This recipe is from the book “The Lunigiana cuisine,” Written by Angelo Paracucchi.

Ingredients (for 6-8 people): 

  • 40 big muscles
  • 50 grams of bread crumbs
  • 2 eggs
  • 30 grams of grated parmesan cheese
  • garlic
  • parsley
  • ½ glass of red wine
  • 5 spoons of olive oil
  • 200 grams peeled and seeded tomatoes
  • 1 glass of milk
  • salt and pepper


Scrape the muscles with a knife, wash them well and open them, being careful not to detach the valves.

Then, soak the breadcrumbs in milk for 10 minutes.

Put the squeezed bread, Parmesan cheese, eggs, salt, pepper, and a few chopped muscles with garlic and parsley in a bowl. Mix well until you have a smooth paste.

Fill the mussels.

Pour oil, more garlic, and parsley into a saucepan, and saute lightly.

Sprinkle with red wine to evaporate a moment, and add the crushed tomatoes. Add salt and pepper.

Put the muscles into the saucepan, making a single layer, cover them and let them cook for 40-45 minutes over medium heat.


But some see it differently and use mortadella, and plenty of it.

Here is another recipe.


  • 1 bag of muscles of about 2.5 Kg
  • 150 grams mortadella ham
  • three eggs
  • 50 grams grated grana cheese
  • 2 slices of bread, deprived of the crust and soaked
  • 1 bottle tomato sauce (or peeled)
  • garlic and finely chopped parsley 
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • salt – nutmeg


Once mussels are thoroughly cleaned, take the broken or tiny ones out, and pick the larger ones to make the portions of five to six mussels for a person.

These will be those to open by gently twisting the nerve that keeps the valves together but without separating them completely. 

Valves should be kept from being detached, or later you must tie them with a rope. Earning the flames of hell of La Spezia cooking. This operation must be done on a basin so as not to waste the mussels’ fluid.

The other mussels will by themselves open in the pan.

For the filling: Soak the bread with the filtered mussels liquid, then wring it out. Then chop mortadella and a handful of cooked muscles very finely.

At this point, combine everything: bread, mortadella ham, chopped mussels, grain, eggs, and nutmeg to taste. Taste the filling and add salt if necessary.

Take a relatively large saucepan to hold all mussels lined up and let them cook with chopped garlic and parsley. Deglaze with wine, then add the tomatoes (lightly salted sauce)

When the sauce starts to boil, align the muscles you have filled with the filling in the pan.

Cover and cook for half an hour, reversing the mussels once after 10 minutes of cooking.

How to open the muscles to prepare stuffed mussels?

Do you have trouble opening your mussels? Here is a video to help you!