Mussels with Tomato, Saffron & Coriander

Enjoy a shellfish dish with a Spanish flavour with Sophie Grigson's robustly tasty recipe for mussels in tomato sauce
By Sophie Grigson
Mussels with Tomato, Saffron & Coriander
  • Rating:
  • Serves: 4 as main, 6 as starter
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Effort: medium



  • 1.35 kilos fresh mussels
  • a generous pinch of strands saffron
  • 2 tbsp hot water
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds, crushed
  • 2 x 400g tins of tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp dried dried red chilli flakes
  • black pepper
  • 3 tbsp roughly chopped coriander leaves


1. Rinse the mussels in cold water pulling away their 'beards' and scraping off any barnacles. Tap any mussels that are open against the work surface and if they don?t close discard them and any with broken shells.

2. Set the saffron threads to soak in the hot water.

3. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan. Add the onion, garlic and coriander seeds to the oil and fry gently, stirring often, for 3-5 minutes until the onion is softened without browning it.

4. Add the tinned tomatoes, tomato paste, sugar and chilli flakes. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper.

5. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer, stirring now and then to break up the tomatoes, until the sauce has thickened, around 20 minutes.

7. Add the saffron and its soaking water and simmer for a further 2 minutes. Set aside until needed.

8. Pour water into a large saucepan until it reaches 1cm up the sides of the pan. Heat the water and bring to the boil.

9. Add the mussels to the boiling water, cover and cook over a high heat for around 3 minutes, until the mussels have opened.

10. Remove the opened mussels and keep warm. Strain their cooking liquid.

11. Pour the strained cooking liquid into the tomato sauce. Bring the sauce to the boil and simmer for 1-2 minutes.

12. Stir in the coriander leaves and pour the tomato sauce into a warmed serving bowl or tureen. Add the mussels and serve at once.

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