MUSSELS FRA DIAVOLO

4 tablespoons olive oil, divided

6 slices raw bacon, chopped into small pieces

1 large onion, chopped

8 large garlic cloves, chopped

1 tablespoon Dish off the Block Ciao Bella Italian Spice Blend

½ teaspoon dried thyme

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 cup dry white wine

1, 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes

2 tablespoons capers

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

4-5-pounds mussels, scrubbed and debearded

3 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley or basil leaves for garnish

Grated parmesan for garnish

1 loaf French bread (and/or 1 pound spaghetti cooked al dente)

Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large deep skillet over medium heat.  Add the chopped bacon to the skillet and sauté for 4-5 minutes until bacon starts to get crisp and renders fat.  Add the onions and garlic to the pan and cook, for 2 minutes more until soft and fragrant.

Add the Italian seasoning, thyme, and red pepper flakes and stir to coat.  Add the white wine and increase the heat to medium high.  Cook for 2-3 minutes until the wine is boiling and begins to reduce.  Add the tomatoes, capers, salt, and pepper to the pan.  Continue to cook for 3-4 more minutes letting the flavors combine.

Add the mussels to the pan and toss to completely coat in the sauce.  Cover the pan and cook for another 4-5 minutes until all of the mussels are opened, tossing once after about 2 minutes so they cook evenly.  Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the remaining olive oil.  Garnish parsley or basil and parmesan.

Serve immediately with crostini (drizzle the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil over the bread rounds and toast in the oven at 375 degrees for 7-8 minutes until golden) OR serve as a sauce over spaghetti.

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