This back-to-school season, I will be posting new One-Bowl-Wonders recipes.  Recipes in this series are simple, quick, and can be made with just one bowl.  They are designed to be ready to eat in under an hour without wrecking your whole kitchen!  Easy recipes. Easy clean-up. Big reward! ….Perfect for back to school!

Sometimes, even on a busy weeknight… I want something that tastes really special.  By really special, I mean something that tastes like it cooked all day.  I want those richly melded, complex flavors of a long simmered sauce, but I want to bat my eyelashes and wiggle my nose like in I Dream of Jeannie and have it magically appear.  Not gunna happen?  Okay, okay, but 20 minutes tops.

Friends, as an Italian gal who is no stranger long simmered sauces, I am confessing to you my sauce snobbery.  I am a blood hound when it comes to sniffing out cut-corners and artificial thickeners.  But friends, I give my full approval to the flavors and complexity of this  10 minutes sauce!  The entire dish, including the sauce, comes together in under 20!

With saffron, garlic, ginger, shallots, and bay leaves, this tomatoey broth is out of this world flavorful.  The coconut milk adds a delicateness that plays beautifully with the saffron and mussels.  The layers of flavors in this make me feel like Houdini!

One more thing.  The flavor of saffron and mussels together make my heart pitter patter like very few flavor combos can!  Saffron and mussels together. Forever. The End.

Seriously though, rock a weeknight dinner with this dish!  You are 20 minutes from the most tasty dinner ever whipped up in 1 pot!

Back-to-School: Saffron Coconut Milk Mussels

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 20 minutes

Yield: 4 servings

  • 1 lb. live mussels
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, smashed and chopped
  • 1 tbsp. fresh peeled grated ginger
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 generous pinch saffron threads
  • 2 tbsp. tomato paste
  • 3/4 c. light coconut milk
  • 3/4 - 1 c. low sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper, fresh and coarsely ground
  • pinch crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 c. parsley leaves, coarsely chopped
  • Crusty bread, for serving

Rinse mussels with cold water.  If any mussels are open, tap lightly on their shell with your finger.  If they slowly close, they are alive.  If not, it's dead and needs to be discarded.  It isn't safe to eat the dead mussels.  Set mussels aside.  We will add them in a few minutes.

Place a large dutch oven or large heavy saucepan with lid over medium heat and add olive oil.  Once oil sputters when water droplets hit it, add garlic, ginger, shallot, saffron, bay leaves, and a pinch of salt.  Cover and cook for one minute to soften onions slightly and allow garlic and ginger to become fragrant.  Add tomato paste and stir to combine.  Whisk in coconut milk, 3/4 c. of broth, black pepper, and salt.  Bring to a boil and reduce heat to medium low.  If too thick, stir in remaining broth.

Immediately add mussels (gently!) and use a ladle to spoon sauce over the top of them.  Steam the mussels in the broth with the lid ajar for about 3 minutes or until they pop open.  Be very careful not to overcook or they will be tough and rubbery.

Remove from heat and toss in the parsley.  Add a pinch of red pepper flakes and serve immediately with crusty bread to sop up the tasty sauce.