Special Diet Information

Coumadin® (Warfarin)
This recipe is safe for Coumadin (warfarin) users.

This recipe contains cheese and some of those who are lactose intolerant may be able to tolerate it.

This is a low sodium recipe.

GERD / Acid Reflux
No specific GERD triggers.

Gluten Sensitivity
This recipe is safe for those who are sensitive to gluten.


"Cogito ergo spud."

The refrigerator light goes on...

I love saffron and thought of this recipe when I was having mussels recently at a restaurant. The broth in the restaurant's dish was good, but it just wasn't tasty enough to eat like a soup. The saffron gives this recipe a rich flowery and savory flavor that's fantastic after eating the mussels. Sort of like having your mussels with built in dessert.


Saffron filaments are the dried red stigmas and the white style of crocus flowers. For me this has always been a lovely twist of fate because crocus are my favorite flower. I remember that they were the first flower that I could call by name. Our front yard was covered with them. Little did I know their value.

Describing the flavor of saffron is difficult because the taste is so complex. It is at once aromatic, woody, and umami with just a touch of sweetness. To me saffron tastes yellow - like a warm summer day in the woods.

I suppose that you could go out in the yard and pick the flowers, pulling the stigma out for drying yourself, but I prefer to pick up a few grams at the store. Besides, a gram of saffron about 500 threads. As each flower only yields 3 threads, going to the market is quite a bit easier. 

Most of the available saffron is harvested in Spain, but countries in the Middle East, including Iran, are popular producers. The latter saffron is not as intense to my palate and I generally try to find the Spanish import.

How much saffron? I generally use about 10 threads per serving, counting them out carefully. For some recipes I will make a saffron infusion: essentially saffron tea. I place the saffron in the bottom of a Pyrex measuring cup and add about a quarter cup of boiling water. Letting the threads steep in this way results in a more powerful aromatic saffron flavor especially in quick saute recipes.

For you saffron junkies out there John Humphries has written a lovely book called The Saffron Companion. I must admit that I don't purchase many specialty cookbooks like this one, but his writing is so wonderful, and because most of the recipes are Mediterranean or Middle Eastern they are both delicious and healthy.


Mussels with Saffron Broth - Low Sodium Version

Servings = 2 | Serving size =1 pound mussels with broth and veggies

Cooking Time = 30 Minutes

This recipe can be multiplied by 2, 3, 4, 5, 6.

This recipe does not make very good leftovers.

20 threads saffron
1 cup boiling water
3 quarts water
12 ounces yams (peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes)
2 tsp olive oil
1 large shallot (minced)
1 large carrot (peeled and diced)
1/2 cup white wine
2/3 cup frozen peas
fresh ground black pepper (to taste)
2 lbs mussels (cleaned well)
1 ounce goat cheese

Place the saffron in a small bowl and add the boiling water.

Place the water in a large stock pot over high heat. When it comes to a boil, add the yams. Cook for about 10 minutes. The yams should be tender but not mushy. Drain the yams and set aside.

Place the olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the shallots and cook for one minute. Add the carrot and cook for about two minutes, stirring frequently.

Add the saffron liquid, white wine, peas and pepper. Increase the heat to high.

When the broth is boiling, add the mussels and cover. Cook for about 10 minutes, until the mussels open.

Remove the pan from the heat. Divide the mussels between two large bowls. Place the goat cheese in the pan with the veggies and whisk until melted. Pour the vegetables and broth over the mussels and serve.

Nutrition Facts

Serving size = 1 pound mussels with broth and veggies

Servings = 2


Amount Per Serving

Calories 467 Calories from Fat 101
  % Daily Value
Total Fat 11g 18%
    Saturated Fat 4g 20%
    Monounsaturated Fat 5g  
    Trans Fat 0g  
Cholesterol 38mg 13%
Sodium 372mg 16%
Total Carbohydrates 66g 22%
    Dietary Fiber 10g 40%
    Sugars 5g  
Protein 21g  
Vitamin A 157% Vitamin C 82%
Calcium 13% Iron 35%
Vitamin K 24 mcg Potassium 2006 mg
Magnesium 98 mg