Saffron Mussels with Gnocchi
Mussels are the star of this authentic Italian dish, along with homemade gnocchi of course. The seafood and gnocchi combine with tomatoes, parsley, garlic and saffron, to add a subtle but typically Italian flavor. If you prefer to use clams or baby squid, either of those would work nicely in the dish as a sub for the mussels. You could even use some of each if you want an especially impressive dish, or you like plenty of variety with your seafood.
Mussels or clams need to be scoured with a knife to get any barnacles off, and the shells should be closed. Any open shells can be tapped and if the animal is alive the shell will close. If it stays open discard it in case it is dead. Mussels might have beards. If yours do, pull them off. The shellfish should be kept in a cloth-covered bowl until you are ready to cook them. Baby squid will not require any preparation. The gnocchi are made with flour, potatoes and egg, and they make a nice alternative to rice, pasta or potatoes.
The sauce is made with tomatoes, mussels and some aromatic flavorings, and these 2 components go together beautifully to make the complete dish. If you are thinking of serving a side dish with this, you cannot go wrong with a simple salad. Alternatively choose an appetizer or dessert (or both!) instead, to round out the meal. You might wonder why so many Italian recipes are made from scratch when you can buy readymade tomato sauce and frozen gnocchi, but make and taste this, and the wonderful fresh flavors will be proof enough of why making the effort is well worth it. This is a stunning dish.
- 2¼ lbs potatoes
- 1 lightly beaten egg
- 1¾ cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
- 9 oz shelled mussels
- 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
- 12 oz peeled, seeded and chopped tomatoes
- Pinch of lightly crushed saffron threads
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 peeled garlic clove
- Salt and black pepper
- First make the gnocchi.
- Steam the potatoes for half an hour, or until tender, then mash the flesh in a bowl while still hot.
- If you have a potato ricer you could use that instead, for convenience.
- Stir in the egg, flour and some salt.
- Knead the dough until elastic and soft.
- Shape it into ⅔-inch diameter rolls, then cut those into ¾-inch pieces.
- Press them against the side of a grater to make indentations, and arrange them on a floured dish towel.
- Next make the sauce.
- Sauté the garlic gently in the olive oil until it starts to color, then discard the garlic, leaving the flavor in the oil.
- Add the mussels to the oil, as well as the tomatoes, and cook 10 minutes.
- Soak the saffron in a bit of lukewarm water for a few minutes.
- Stir the saffron and the water into the sauce and add salt and black pepper to season.
- Stir in the parsley then take the sauce off the heat.
- Bring a pot of salted water to a boil, then cook the gnocchi in batches.
- When they rise to the top they are done.
- Use a slotted spoon to remove the gnocchi and add it to the sauce.
Potato gnocchi and mussels are served together in this lovely Italian dish. The flavors are minimalistic but all you need to bring out the beauty of your seafood is a tomato sauce infused with garlic, saffron and parsley. The flavor of the gnocchi will be really good because they are freshly homemade, while the mussels are showcased perfectly. The photo is a close-up shot of the mussels with the gnocchi. This is a nicely presented dish, especially if you add a sprig of parsley or basil to each plate before serving, and the flavors will definitely make you fall in love with Italian cuisine all over again.
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