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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.

Homemade Gnocchi with Mussels in Tomato Sauce
Summary: Homemade potato gnocchi and mussels in an aromatic tomato sauce complement one another beautifully, and this dish is not difficult to prepare. The saffron adds a very special touch.
Cuisine: Italian
Recipe type: Seafood
Serves: 4
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
For the Gnocchi:
  • 2¼ lbs potatoes
  • 1 lightly beaten egg
  • 1¾ cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • Salt
For the Mussels:
  • 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
  1. First make the gnocchi.
  2. Steam the potatoes for half an hour, or until tender, then mash the flesh in a bowl while still hot.
  3. If you have a potato ricer you could use that instead, for convenience.
  4. Stir in the egg, flour and some salt.
  5. Knead the dough until elastic and soft.
  6. Shape it into ⅔-inch diameter rolls, then cut those into ¾-inch pieces.
  7. Press them against the side of a grater to make indentations, and arrange them on a floured dish towel.
  8. Next make the sauce.
  9. Sauté the garlic gently in the olive oil until it starts to color, then discard the garlic, leaving the flavor in the oil.
  10. Add the mussels to the oil, as well as the tomatoes, and cook 10 minutes.
  11. Soak the saffron in a bit of lukewarm water for a few minutes.
  12. Stir the saffron and the water into the sauce and add salt and black pepper to season.
  13. Stir in the parsley then take the sauce off the heat.
  14. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil, then cook the gnocchi in batches.
  15. When they rise to the top they are done.
  16. Use a slotted spoon to remove the gnocchi and add it to the sauce.

Photo Description:

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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Christine Szalay-Kudra

Hi I'm Christine, and I am happy you are visiting. Food is a large part of our family's lives, and we love to try new dishes, especially Italian food which offers so much freshness and flavor, whether you are making a classic Italian dish like lasagna or pizza, or experimenting with new appetizers, entrées or desserts from Italy.

Even if you are brand new to this cuisine, you will be able to find all kinds of tempting recipes here. I have been collecting classic Italian recipes, all conveniently in one place, along with unusual recipes from Italy plus some dishes inspired by Italian cuisine.

When the weather is cold, a baked pasta dish or juicy pork or veal recipe might be ideal. During the summer months, an Italian salad might be your dish of choice. We have vegetarian recipes, Italian soups, and even tips on how to work with Italian ingredients for the best results, whether you are making lasagna, gnocchi or an Italian casserole


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