Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Saffron Cream Mussels on Pasta

Just a few strands of saffron added to a simple pasta sauce suddenly makes this dish something very special. It looks elegant, refined and sophisticated - when it's presented on a large white plate it definitely has that wow factor. But - and here's the best bit - it's really easy and quick to make, it's not expensive and I have been known cook it up for a mid week supper dish. Although it can easily be passed off as a dish for a special occasion - especially with a glass of something sparkling.

I think the bit that takes the longest is preparing the mussels before cooking!

Recipe - enough for two

1 bag of mussels - approx a lb in weight
2 largish shallots
2 cloves garlic
large pinch chilli flakes
2 spring onions
large knob of butter
glass white wine
double cream - approx cupful
large handful of chopped parsley
salt and pepper
saffron strands
a little boiling water
Pasta - spaghetti, linguine, fettuccine - long thin pasta of your choice - fresh or dried.

First you need to sort and clean the mussels. Open the bag in the sink and sort through. Discard any that are open and that wont shut when tapped. Once that is done you need to clean the shells and remove any beards. Simple rip the beards away from the shell with a swift pull. Then wash off the shells under some running water - I use a nailbrush to remove any dirt. Set the shells aside in a colander to finish draining.

Now pop a pinch of saffron strands into a bowl and add about a tablespoon of boiling water. Leave it to brew out it's golden colour.

Dice the shallots into tiny cubes and thinly slice the garlic.

Place the butter in a heavy based pan (that has a lid) add the shallots and garlic, and place over a medium heat. Once the onions have softened, add the chilli flakes and turn up the heat.

Throw in the mussels - that sound of shellfish hitting a pan is my favourite cooking sound! - give the pan a shake and then add the glass of wine. Pop the lid on, lower the heat to a simmer, and leave the mussels to cook for 6-8 minutes until all of the shells have opened.

Remove from the heat and lift out the mussels - leaving the liquid and shallots in the pan - set aside a few of the mussels in their shells ( I usually allow 3 per person) and then remove all the rest from their shells.

Whilst your doing this you can also have the pasta cooking - just follow the packet instructions.

Thinly slice the spring onions and add to the pan, along with the cream and parsley. Place over a medium heat and once it's starts to bubble add the mussels.

Quickly pour in the saffron strands and liquid.  Make sure it's all heated through then add a little salt and pepper.

Now your ready to serve. You mustn't over cook this bit or the mussels will become tough and chewy. It's all already cooked so this is just a quick heat through.

Drain your pasta - butter and pepper it if you wish. Plate up a twirl of pasta and then spoon over the saffron cream and mussels. Place some of the mussels in shells on the plate and serve.

Hope you have a great day
Love Lizx

 Saffron Mussels with Pasta