Mussel and saffron risotto

Serves 4 Starters and mains

Risotto 4532



  • 3 garlic cloves, finely grated
  • large pinch saffron strands
  • 3tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for serving
  • 1 small fennel bulb, trimmed and finely chopped
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 100ml white wine
  • 1kg mussels, scrubbed and de-bearded
  • 300g carnaroli rice
  • 25g butter
  • 7g short stems of dill, fronds removed and roughly chopped (reserve a few fronds to garnish)


Put the garlic and saffron in a pestle and mortar with some sea salt and crush to a paste. Add 1tbsp boiled water and set aside. Heat the oil in a heavy-based pan over a medium heat for a second before adding the fennel and onion. Cook for 5 minutes until softened but not browned and then set aside.

Meanwhile, put the wine, 150ml cold water, the mussels and a large pinch of sea salt in a large pan. Cook over a medium-high heat for 4 minutes, shaking the pan regularly until all the mussels have opened. Put a large colander over a bowl. Tip the mussels into the colander and let the cooking liquid drain into the bowl. Remove the mussels from their shells, reserving about 12 small ones in their shells for the top. Discard any that haven’t opened. Measure the juices from the bowl and add boiling water, if necessary, until you have 600ml. Carefully pour this into a large pan over a gentle heat, leaving any grit behind in the bowl.

Add the rice to the onion and fennel and stir to coat with oil. Add the garlic and saffron mixture and stir well. Start adding the hot mussel stock a little at a time, until each addition has evaporated, before adding more. Keep stirring and adding stock every so often until all but a spoonful of the stock remains. Season to taste, then turn off the heat. Add the mussels and butter, stir, then cover with a lid

for 5 minutes. Add the remaining tablespoon of stock and fold in the chopped dill.

Divide the mussel and saffron risotto among 4 warmed bowls and top with the reserved mussels in their shells. Garnish with a few extra fronds of dill.

Food styling and recipes: Linda Tubby. Photography and prop styling: Angela Dukes
Risotto 4532
Food styling and recipes: Linda Tubby. Photography and prop styling: Angela Dukes


Get Premium access to all the latest content online

Subscribe and view full print editions online... Subscribe