Mussels in Zesty Red Sauce

Serves 8

Your house will smell like an Italian restaurant when you make this recipe. But don’t let this elegant appetizer fool you. It’s incredibly simple to make, especially if the mussels come pre-cleaned.


  • 3 pounds fresh mussles
  • ½ teaspoon saffron threads
  • ¾ cup dry white wine
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 medium shallots, thinly sliced
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • 1½ tablespoons minced garlic, about 4-5 cloves
  • 3 cups (24 ounces) diced tomatoes, fresh or canned
  • 1½ teaspoons salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ cup chopped flat-leaf parsley


Place the mussels in a bowl and fill with cool water. One at a time, scrub each mussel with a vegetable brush under cool running water. Remove the “beard,” if it has one, by grabbing the tough fibers on the outside of the shell and pulling them out. Discard any mussels whose shell won’t stay tightly shut. You can save time by having your fishmonger clean them for you.

Mix together the saffron and white wine, and let it steep for at least 10 minutes. Place a large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium heat and add the olive oil. Add the shallots and cook until just softened, about 3-5 minutes. Add the red pepper flakes, Italian seasoning and garlic. Cook for 1-2 minutes, until very fragrant, stirring often to keep the garlic from burning. Stir in the tomatoes, salt and pepper. Pour in the saffron-infused white wine. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.

Add the mussels, stir everything together and cover the pot. Turn down the heat to medium and cook for 8-10 minutes until all the mussels are open. Discard any mussels that do not open. Pour cooked mussels into a serving bowl and sprinkle with parsley. Serve hot.

Make-ahead tip: Make the tomato base for the sauce (without the wine) up to 2 days in advance and keep it in the refrigerator. When you’re ready, heat up the sauce, then add the white wine and saffron and continue with the recipe.

Nutrition Analysis: 250 cal, 11 g fat, 50 mg chol, 930 mg sodium, 11 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 2 g sugar, 21 g protein.

Lauren Marie writes the popular gluten-free food blog