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Mussels with Tomato, Saffron, and Fennel

Serves 4


    B12-rich mussels are a very good and economical source of protein and iron. Steamed mussels are a classic way to enjoy seafood—and so is this rich, aromatic broth of tomato, fennel, and saffron. Be sure to allow saffron to fully infuse to get the full flavour benefit, and finish off the dish with the fragrant fennel fronds.


    Sustainability status

    Farmed mussels are considered highly sustainable due to their low impacts on the environment. They are easy to harvest, require no fertilizer or fresh water, and don’t need to be fed externally, as they get all their nutritional requirements from their marine environment.

    Mussel prep

    Selection: Look for mussels with shiny, tightly closed shells that smell of the sea. If shells are slightly open, give them a tap. Live mussels will close immediately.

    Storage: Keep mussels in the fridge in a shallow pan laid on top of ice. Keep them out of water and cover with a damp cloth. Ideally, consume on the day you buy them, but within two days. They need to breathe, so never keep them in a sealed plastic bag.

    Cleanup: In addition to being sustainable, farmed mussels tend to require less cleaning than wild mussels. Most of the fibrous “beards” that mussels use to grip solid surfaces will have been removed before sale. But if a few remain, they’re easily dispatched: grasp the beard with your thumb and forefinger and pull it toward the hinge of the mussel and give it a tug. Afterward, give mussels a quick rinse and scrub away any areas of mud or seaweed, which, with farmed mussels, will require minimal work.


    Mussels with Tomato, Saffron, and Fennel


      • 1/2 tsp (2 mL) saffron threads
      • 1/2 cup (125 mL) hot (not boiling) water
      • 1 Tbsp (15 mL) extra-virgin olive oil
      • 2 shallots, finely sliced
      • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
      • 1 fennel bulb, finely sliced, fronds reserved
      • 1/4 tsp (1 mL) salt, divided
      • 1/2 cup (125 mL) white wine
      • 1/2 cup (125 mL) low-sodium vegetable stock
      • 14 1/2 oz (411 g) can no-salt-added diced tomatoes
      • 1 lb (450 g) farmed mussels, scrubbed, beards removed
      • 2 Tbsp (30 mL) chopped parsley
      • 1 or 2 lemon wedges, for serving


      Per serving:

      • calories212
      • protein15 g
      • total fat7 g
        • sat. fat1 g
      • total carbohydrates13 g
        • sugars0.5 g
        • fibre2 g
      • sodium266 mg



      In small bowl or glass, place saffron threads and hot water. Allow saffron “tea” to steep for 20 minutes.


      In large stock pot, heat olive oil, shallots, and garlic on medium-low. Cook for 5 minutes, until shallots are soft. Add sliced fennel and salt and cook for 3 to 5 minutes more on medium. Turn heat up to medium-high, while stirring fennel constantly, and add wine. Reduce heat to medium and add saffron tea, vegetable stock, and tomatoes. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to medium-low if contents of pot begin to boil. After 20 to 25 minutes, broth will be rich and aromatic. With heat on medium, add mussels, cover, and allow to steam for 2 minutes, or until mussel shells open.


      Pour broth into large serving bowl and, using slotted spoon, place mussels on top. Garnish with chopped fennel fronds and parsley and serve with crusty bread and lemon wedges.



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