Clam and Mussel Conserva

Clams and mussels—steamed with white wine and butter and then shucked and smothered in a lemony dressing—make for a luxurious first course of a leisurely lunch. The result is fresh-tasting shellfish in a briny, bright sauce, perfect for scooping up with lettuce or spooning over toast.

Clam and Mussel Conserva
Photo: Photo by Caitlin Bensel / Food Styling by Margaret Monroe Dickey / Prop Styling by Claire Spollen
Active Time:
30 mins
Marinate Time:
6 hrs
Total Time:
8 hrs 15 mins
6 to 8


  • ¼ cup unsalted butter

  • 50 small hard-shell clams (such as littleneck) (about 3 pounds), scrubbed

  • 1 cup (8 ounces) dry white wine

  • 50 mussels (about 2 pounds), scrubbed and debearded

  • 1 lemon

  • 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil

  • ½ cup finely chopped celery

  • cup finely chopped carrot

  • cup finely chopped shallot

  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic

  • 2 thyme sprigs

  • 2 fresh or dried bay leaves

  • ¼ cup white wine vinegar

  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste

  • ½ teaspoon black pepper, or to taste

  • Lettuce leaves (such as Little Gem) and crusty bread, for serving


  1. Melt butter in a large pot over medium-high. Add clams and wine. Cover and bring to a simmer over medium-high; cook, shaking pot occasionally, until clams open, 5 to 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer clams to a large bowl; discard any clams that do not open. Add mussels to pot; cover and cook until mussels open, 3 to 6 minutes. Transfer mussels to bowl with clams; discard any mussels that do not open. Pour cooking liquid into a large heatproof measuring cup, and set aside. Let shellfish stand until cool enough to handle, about 15 minutes. Shuck meat, and place in a large heatproof bowl; discard shells.

  2. Peel 3 (2-inch) strips of lemon peel from lemon using a vegetable peeler. Halve lemon; squeeze to yield 3 tablespoons juice. Set lemon peel and juice aside. Heat oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium. Add celery, carrot, shallot, and garlic; cook, stirring often, until vegetables are tender, about 6 minutes. Stir in thyme sprigs, bay leaves, and lemon peel. Carefully pour shellfish cooking liquid through a fine wire-mesh strainer into skillet, leaving any sediment in measuring cup. Bring to a gentle simmer over medium. Remove from heat; stir in lemon juice and vinegar.

  3. Pour mixture in skillet over shellfish. Let cool 1 hour. Stir in parsley; season with salt and pepper. Cover and chill at least 6 hours. Bring to room temperature; serve with lettuce and bread.

Make Ahead

Conserva can be made up to 5 days ahead. Let come to room temperature before serving.


Minerally, precise bubbles: NV Champagne Vouette et Sorbée Fidèle .

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