Mussels in Tomatoes & Saffron

Mussels in Tomatoes & SaffronSaffron is wonderfully aromatic and is said to be the most expensive spice in the world. However, a little goes a long way and in the case of saffron more does not necessarily mean better.


Check out those beautiful threads!

Hawke’s Bay is home to Terrza Saffron – 100% New Zealand grown saffron – and several other smaller saffron growers. Check out the Terrza Saffron website for lots of interesting information on this magical spice.

One important point to know is that saffron needs to be soaked in a liquid such as water, stock or wine to release its colour and flavour, so don’t throw it straight in the pan with the oil or butter as it is not fat soluble.

I read somewhere that a large pinch of saffron is about 30 threads – yeah, right are you going to count them!

Mussels in Tomatoes & Saffron

Serve with crusty bread and a salad of mixed leaves on the side.

Serves 4

2kg fresh mussels, cleaned
1 large pinch saffron
¾ cup dry white wine
a knob of butter
1 small onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
400g can diced tomatoes
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
a handful of fresh dill, chopped

1              Place mussels and ½ cup wine in a large saucepan over a high heat, cover and cook for 5-7 minutes or until mussels open. Discard any mussels that do not open. Strain mussels and reserve liquid.
Remove mussel meat from shells and set aside.

2              Meanwhile steep saffron in remaining ¼ cup wine for about 10 minutes.

3              Melt butter in a large saucepan over a medium-high heat and when foaming add onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, for 3-4 minutes or until onion starts to soften. Add wine and saffron, tomatoes and reserved mussel cooking juices, bring to simmering and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 10-15 minutes or until sauce reduces and thickens.

4              Add mussels to sauce and cook for 2-3 minutes to warm through. Season with salt and black pepper, if necessary. Add most of the dill, reserving a little for scattering.

Where did the ingredients for this dish come from:
Mussels: Hastings City New World – Hastings; Onion, garlic:
Krismaw Gardens – Hastings; Saffron: Terrza Saffron – Hastings; Store Cupboard Ingredients: wine, butter, canned tomatoes, salt, black pepper

Note: Many of these producers can be found at the Napier Urban Food Market each Saturday morning and/or at the Hawke’s Bay Farmers’
Market each Sunday morning.

Happy cooking and eating.

Recipe by Rachel Blackmore

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Another mussel recipe you might like to try:

Mussels with Chorizo, Tomato and Wine

Mussels with Chorizo, Tomato and Wine


9 thoughts on “Mussels in Tomatoes & Saffron”

  1. I love this Rachel, you just two of my favourite ingredients together. I did not know that you grow Saffron in New Zealand and am quite surprised by this fact. A friend has bought me some back from both Argentina and France and I just associated saffron with hot climates. Your NZ mussels would be divine too, this is a great dish 🙂
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