Mussels and Clams Fra Diavolo (Christmas Eve)

Hi everyone,

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With Christmas Eve only two days away here is another dish we usually serve on Christmas Eve. It is another favorite of mine (I have so many favorites for this holiday, I can’t choose which one I love the most.)……

Mussels and Clams Fra Diavolo

You can make this as hot and spicy as you can handle. I use Calabrian chili peppers to bring on the heat and if that is too spicy for you, substitute it with red pepper flakes. That will give you just enough heat without having too much spice. I love spicy so I use the Calabrian chili peppers…..


For the Sauce

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 small shallot, diced

1/2 medium yellow onion, minced

2 basil sprig

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

1 tsp of crushed Calabrian chili peppers (or more if you like the heat)

Kosher salt

1/2 cup dry white wine

1 tablespoon tomato paste

One 28-ounce can of tomato puree or crushed tomato

 Black Pepper

 For the Mussels & clams * – see Cook’s note

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 cup minced shallot

2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper

1 cup dry white wine

1 tbsp butter

3 pounds mussels, scrubbed and debearded

2 DZ. Cockles or little neck clams, scrubbed and cleaned

Chopped parsley, for serving

Crusty bread, for serving

Cooks Note:

How to Clean Clams

  1. Prepare a large bowl. To purge clams of sand, fill up a large bowl with a mix of cold water and sea salt. …
  2. Soak the clams. Let the clams soak in the salted water for 20 minutes to an hour. …
  3. Remove the clams from the water. …
  4. Scrub the clams clean. ...
  5. Rinse the clams.

How to Clean Mussels

Place your mussels in a colander or bowl in the sink and run them under cold water. Rinse them to get rid of any debris or seaweed on their outer shells. If you feel any muddy spots, rub them off under the water, but you’re very unlikely to with farm-raised mussels. Mussels sometimes have small, fibrous “beards,” which you should pinch off.


Make the Sauce first…

In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil until shimmering. Add the onion, shallots, basil, oregano, Calabrian chili peppers, and a pinch of salt and cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, add the minced garlic and continue to sauté until softened, about 5 minutes.

Add tomato paste and sauté for a minute to toast the tomato paste.

Add the white wine and simmer for 2 minutes. Add the tomato puree and bring just to a boil. Cover partially and simmer over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until thickened and reduced, about 20- 30 minutes. Season the sauce with salt and pepper.

Prepare the Mussels and Clams

In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil until shimmering, and add 1 tbsp. of butter. Add the shallot, garlic, and crushed red pepper and cook over high heat, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute.

Add the wine and boil until reduced by half, about 3 minutes. Reduce the heat and stir in the tomato sauce from step 1 and bring to a simmer.

Stir in the clams first (they take longer to open), cover, and cook until they start to open then add the mussels, cover again and cook until the mussels open, 3 to 5 minutes; discard any mussels & clams that do not open- they are dead.

Season lightly with salt, then transfer the mussels and sauce to a platter. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve right away with crusty bread.

These are the Calabrian chili peppers I use...

Until my next post, make every day a celebration!

Stay well,



2 thoughts on “Mussels and Clams Fra Diavolo (Christmas Eve)

  1. Diane Ruggiero Monte

    Hi Diane, I want to thank you for posting this detailed recipe! It is written very well and you made it easy to understand. I also enjoyed all your delicious and beautiful holiday desserts! I always enjoy your wonderful posts and thank you for sharing with us. Merry Christmas to you and your family and I wish you many blessings in the new year! Buon Natale!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. aries041158 Post author

      Thank you so much Diane for your very kind compliments. I am always so happy when people use my recipes and it gives them inspiration and new ideas. It is my absolute pleasure to share and I love the feedback. You made my day… I wish you a very Merry Christmas and I hope 2023 is your best year yet. Buon Natale and thank you for reading my blog.



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