Italian-Inspired Mussels in “Marinara” Sauce

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Embark on a culinary journey with a recipe that celebrates the richness of the sea and the vibrant flavors of Italy. This Italian-Inspired Mussels in "Marinara" Sauce recipe not only tantalizes the taste buds but also brings forth a low-carb twist to a classic dish. 

Mussels have been a staple in Mediterranean cuisine for centuries, and Italy, with its extensive coastline, has perfected the art of incorporating seafood into its culinary repertoire. Marinara sauce, traditionally known for adorning pasta, is reimagined in this recipe to complement the briny goodness of fresh mussels.

Unveiling the Low-Carb Magic:

  • Mussels are not only a delicious source of lean protein but also rich in essential nutrients such as iron, zinc, and vitamin B12. Incorporating them into a low-carb dish ensures a nutrient-dense meal.
  • The finely diced onion and minced garlic not only add layers of flavor but also contribute to the dish's potential health benefits. Garlic, in particular, is known for its immune-boosting properties.
  • Dried basil and red pepper flakes bring a Mediterranean flair, infusing the dish with warmth and a hint of heat. Spices and herbs not only enhance the taste but also offer antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Olive oil, a cornerstone of the Mediterranean diet, provides healthy monounsaturated fats. These fats are associated with heart health and can be a valuable addition to a low-carb, high-nutrient lifestyle.
  • Tomato paste adds depth and acidity to the sauce without the excess carbs found in some traditional pasta sauces. Coconut milk contributes a creamy texture while maintaining the dish's low-carb profile.

The low-carb nature of this dish aligns with many weight loss strategies. Reducing carbohydrate intake can help stabilize blood sugar levels and promote a state of ketosis, where the body utilizes stored fat for energy.


Italian-Inspired Mussels in “Marinara” Sauce

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Yield: 4 servings
Category: Lunch, Dinner
Cuisine: Italian


  • 1 lb (450 g) fresh mussels
  • 2 Tablespoons (20 g) finely diced onion
  • 2 teaspoons (6 g) minced garlic
  • ½ teaspoon (0.5 g) dried basil
  • ½ teaspoon (1 g) red pepper flakes
  • 2 Tablespoons (30 ml) olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon (15 g) tomato paste
  • ½ cup (120 ml) water
  • 3 Tablespoons (45 ml) coconut milk
  • ½ teaspoon (3 g) salt (or to taste)


                          1. Preheat the air fryer to 350°F (175°C).
                          2. Wash the mussels and remove the beard if not already debearded. Fresh mussels are tightly closed, discard the ones that are already open. (NOTE: The “beard” of a mussel is the clump of hair-like fibers that sprout from the shell. Often farm-raised mussels will come debearded. However, if there are some with the hair still on, you can remove the beard easily by grabbing it with your thumb and forefinger and tugging it toward the hinge of the mussel shell or you can also use a knife to gently scrape away the beard.)
                          3. Add the diced onion, minced garlic, dried basil, red pepper flakes, and oil in an air fryer-safe container and mix well. Cook for 5 minutes.
                          4. Add the mussels, tomato paste, and water and mix well. Cook for 8 minutes. (If needed, cook the mussels in batches so that they fit the container of the air fryer.)
                          5. Add the coconut milk and mix well. Cook for an additional 2 minutes. Season with salt, to taste.
                          6. Carefully remove the container from the air fryer and enjoy the mussels with the gravy. Can be served with low-carb or keto-friendly bread, zucchini noodles, or cauliflower rice.

                                                                                            Nutrition: (Estimated and based on per-serving amounts.)

                                                                                            • Calories: 294 
                                                                                            • Fat: 14 g 
                                                                                            • Total Carbs: 11 g 
                                                                                            • Fiber: 1 g 
                                                                                            • Sugar: 1.2 g 
                                                                                            • Net Carbs: 10 g 
                                                                                            • Protein: 29 g

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