Saffron Pasta with Mussels

Yield: 6 servings
Fat per serving: 0.71 g.
Calories per serving: 146.6


Saffron Pasta with Mussels Saffron is expensive, but exquisite and used very sparingly-a smidgeon lends a world of character. Buy saffron threads rather than powder; the threads stay fresher, and on occasion the powder has been cut with ground turmeric by an avaricious spice merchant. We use the large variety of frozen, partially cooked green-lip mussels for convenience and cut them into thirds; if you use blue mussels, steam them open and use them whole. Whole bay scallops or quartered sea scallops make a nice variation.

To prepare the leek, cut the green leaves off but leave the root end intact. Starting 1/4 to 1/2 inch above the root end, slice the leek down the middle. Fan it open under cold running water to remove all residual grit, then cut it crosswise into thin half-moons. Discard the root end.


1/4 teaspoon salt
6 ounces penne
6 ounces leek (about 1 large leek)
   trimmed of all green portions, cleaned,
   and thinly sliced
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup clam juice
Pinch of saffron
12 ounces green-lip mussels
   (about 9 large mussels), shelled
   and cut in thirds
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest


Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil over high heat. Salt, add the penne, and cook until tender. Drain.

Preheat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the leek and wine and cook for about 3 minutes, stirring constantly, until the wine has evaporated and the leek is very soft. Add the garlic. Cook and stir for 1 minute. Add the clam juice and cook for about 5 minutes more, until the liquid is reduced by about half.

Stir in the saffron, then the mussels. Cook for about 3 minutes to heat through. Add the penne, raise the heat to high, and cook for about 3 minutes more, until the pasta has turned saffron-yellow.

Garnish with the parsley and lemon zest. Serve a generous 3/4 cup to each person.


99% Fat-Free Italian Cooking:
All Your Favorite Dishes with Less Than 1 Gram of Fat

By Barry Bluestein and Kevin Morrissey
Hardcover, $27.50
320 pages
March 1999
ISBN: 0-688-15828-5
Recipe Reprinted by permission.


99% Fat-Free Italian Cooking



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This page created April 1999

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