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    Mussels with Saffron and Tomato

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    Mussels with Saffron and Tomato

    The tomato variety recommended here is particularly sweet, but you could use other tomatoes instead. You can clean the mussels and make the tomato sauce in advance, but the mussels should be chilled until needed.

    • Preparation time: 60 minutes
    • Cooking time: 15 minutes
    • Total time: 1 hour 15 minutes 60 minutes 15 minutes

    Serves: Serves 6, as a starter


    • Generous pinch of saffron strands
    • Small pinch of caster sugar
    • 2 bags (about 2kg) rope-grown mussels
    • 6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
    • 6 shallots, finely diced
    • 450g Sultan's Jewel tomatoes


    1. Place the saffron in a small bowl with the sugar. Using a teaspoon, grind the saffron into the sugar to form a rough powder. Stir in 3 tbsp warm water and leave to infuse while you clean the mussels. Tip the mussels into the sink. Place a large bowl at your side. Scrub the mussels clean under cold running water, pulling away their beards and scraping off any barnacles. Put the clean mussels in the bowl. If any are open, tap them briskly on the side of the sink. If they don't shut, discard them. Discard any damaged mussels.
    2. Pour 300ml cold water into a large saucepan. Mix in the saffron water, cover and place over a high heat. As soon as the mixture comes to the boil, add a single layer of the mussels. Cover and allow to come up to the boil. As soon as the mussels open - within about 2 minutes - remove them with a slotted spoon, so the liquid is left in the saucepan. Repeat the process until all the mussels are cooked. Set the mussels aside. Strain the saffron-flavoured mussel liquor through a fine sieve and set aside.
    3. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large, wide saucepan over a medium heat. Gently fry the chopped shallots for about 10 minutes, or until soft and golden. Cover the tomatoes with boiling water for a minute or two. Drain and peel, then roughly chop. Once the shallots are soft, stir in the chopped tomatoes. Increase the heat slightly and cook the tomatoes briskly, stirring regularly, until they have reduced to a thick but textured sauce. Add the strained saffron-infused saffron liquor. As soon as the tomato sauce is piping hot, stir in the cooked mussels with any juices. Reheat and serve immediately, with crusty bread.

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