Mussels with saffron and vermouth

Mussels must be among the most affordable non plant based proteins you can eat. A bag of mussels from the supermarket serves around four people as a starter or two people as a main course and costs well under £3. Bargain.

I have a recipe for Moules marinière on this blog which has a creamy sauce and uses wine but this recipe originated because I didn’t have any wine in stock so I improvised with the vermouth. Another key difference is that this recipe has plenty of broth – it’s more like a soup really. You need to take your time eating this dish as there are a lot of shells to navigate and you get a bit messy along the way – but that’s the pleasure of slow food.

I had some spinach to use up so I added this to the pot just before serving.


  • Bag of mussels
  • Shallot or small onion, chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, chopped
  • Large pinch of saffron, steeped in hot water
  • Half a tin of tomatoes
  • 300 ml boiling water
  • Wine glass of vermouth
  • Pinch of black pepper
  • Pinch of chilli flakes
  • Olive oil


  1. Clean the mussels thoroughly in cold water and remove the beards. Discard any open mussels.
  2. In a large pot or saucepan heat the olive oil and on a low heat cook the shallot/onion, garlic and chilli flakes.
  3. Add the tomatoes, saffron, vermouth and water and bring to the boil.
  4. Add the mussels, cover with a lid and cook for 5 – 10 minutes or until the mussels are open. Discard any mussels which didn’t open.

Serve with French fries or crusty bread.

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