Mussels with Sausages, Onions and Fennel

This is a pleasing, rustic, one-pan dish that makes a weekday dinner feel like a French party in the country. Have you been to a French party in the country? I have and they are no joke, my friends. Always bring a buddy. So, I was already mixing up a batch of no-knead bread when I came across this recipe. I thought it would be perfect on a rainy Summer night. It’s comfort food, for sure, but not as heavy or labor-intensive as a stew or a braise. In Maine, you need warming, reassuring foods all throughout the year. This in-the-oven technique is a way to cook mussels I had not tried, and it works quite well. You may need to give a stir halfway through the second five minutes, to be sure that the mussels are cooking evenly and opening. The bread toasts and browns on one side and soaks up/keeps in all the lovely wine and broth and fat from the olive oil and sausages. I used spicy sausages and added red pepper flakes because I like to live dangerously. There is a hint of sweetness from the fennel and onions – I love the way the vegetables kind of melt. The sky was pouring rain as I cooked and then when I set the skillet on the table the clouds parted and the sky showed patches of blue –  so we opened up the patio doors to let in the evening breeze.

Mussels with Sausages, Onions, and Fennel
Adapted from a recipe in Bon Appetit


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 2 sweet or hot Italian sausages
  • 1/4 fennel bulb, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 white onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • Palmful of red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 lb mussels, cleaned and debearded
  • 3-4 slices thick, crusty bread
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • Squeeze of lemon


Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Puncture sausages with a fork. In a deep, oven-proof skillet brown sausages in olive oil. Add fennel, onions, garlic and red pepper flakes, salt and saute briefly. Add 1/2 cup wine, cover and simmer, about ten minutes. Add mussels and the rest of the wine to the pan; transfer pan to the oven and roast for five minutes. Arrange bread slices so that they cover the mussels and cook for another five minutes, or until all/most of the mussels are open. (Don’t eat those that didn’t!) Drizzle bread with a little olive oil, squeeze lemon over everything, serve with the rest of the wine.

Jillian Bedell

Jillian Bedell is a writer and mother living in a farmhouse in Cushing, Maine. She is very good at talking about herself in the third person. She is co-author of Eating in Maine: At Home, On the Town, and On the Road. She creates content on the internet, on subjects ranging from summer camps to semi-precious stones to the folklore of food. With Malcolm, Jillian was one of the original “Insiders,” for the Visit Maine tourism campaign. She loves telling the stories of her adopted state, finding out-of-the-way places, and people making interesting things. Watching her daughters play in the wild woods and fields of Cushing makes her very happy.


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