Popeye special: Warm spinach salad with mussels

Contributed by Preston Maring, MD

Popeye special: Warm spinach salad with mussels

Try this for an easy light dinner.  Mussels, like crabs, only net about 1/4 pound of "meat" per pound of the whole shellfish.  A couple of pounds of mussels could run $10 at the fish market.  If you do the math, the protein is much more expensive than other sources — but the mussels are really just a condiment in this salad.  You don't need to eat a whole bunch of them.  And they are delicious.


  • 2 pounds mussels, debearded just before cooking
  • 6 ounces of baby spinach leaves
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 to 3 teaspoons chopped fresh ginger
  • 2 to 3 teaspoons chopped garlic
  • Large pinch crushed red chili flakes (two fingers and thumb's worth)
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper

Tip: Peeling and chopping fresh ginger can be challenging. You can peel it with the edge of a bowl of a spoon then chop or simply use large holes on a box grater without peeling it.  The skin sort of magically folds back.


  1. In a salad bowl, toss the spinach with the lemon juice, and season with salt and pepper.  
  2. Steam the mussels in a large covered stockpot until they open — just a few minutes. I used a little dry white wine instead of water. After they are cool enough to handle, remove the mussels from their shells.
  3. Gently warm the olive oil in a small skillet.  
  4. Add the mussels, ginger, garlic, and chilies. Saute until heated — just a minute or two.  
  5. Add this to the spinach.  It will wilt a little.  
  6. Adjust seasoning and serve warm with crusty bread and beverage of choice.

Nutrition information (per serving)

  • Calories: 305
  • Total fat: 15 g
  • Saturated fat: 2 g
  • Trans fat: 0 g
  • Cholesterol: 64 mg
  • Sodium: 485 mg
  • Total carbohydrate: 11 g
  • Dietary fiber: 3 g
  • Total sugars: 0 g
  • Protein: 30 g