Mussels with leek & saffron
Take a break from traditional flavours over the holidays with Diana’s crowd-pleasing dinner party menu
British food dominates at Christmas as most people still cook what’s expected on 25 December, so I enjoy making dishes from elsewhere in the run-up. This meal is Spanish and doesn’t take that much effort (except for the ice cream). Because Spanish rice dishes – known as arroces secos – must not be stirred, they require very little attention. Leave them on the hob or in the oven and they pretty much look after themselves.
Ice cream for dessert might seem odd – a cold dish in a cold season – but it’s really rich and comforting because of the roast pears. And, of course, this meal isn’t just for Christmas. Keep the recipes and they’ll make a great supper party until the end of March.
Mussels with leeks & saffron
If you aren’t keen on saffron, you can alter this dish slightly by leaving it out and adding some sautéed chorizo instead (you should add about 110g, chopped and cooked in olive oil). That will give you a gentle smoky flavour.
SERVES 8 PREP 35 mins COOK 20 mins MORE EFFORT
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 leeks, trimmed, cut into rings and washed well
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
a few parsley sprigs, some thyme and a few bay leaves, tied together to make a bouquet garni 400ml dry sherry
100ml dry white wine big pinch of saffron
200ml double cream
1 tbsp flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
1 Wash the mussels in a sink of cold water, removing any little beards and scrubbing any barnacles. Tap each one on the side of the sink – if the mussel doesn’t close tightly, discard it (also discard any with broken shells). Put the mussels in a colander (in batches) and rinse really well under cold running water.
2 Heat the oil in a large pan (or two pans if you don’t have one big enough to take all the mussels). Sauté the leeks for 8-10 mins until softening, then add the garlic and cook for another few mins. Add the bouquet garni, pour over the sherry and wine, sprinkle over the saffron and bring to just under the boil. Stir to help the saffron flavour the wine.
3 Turn the heat down to mediumlow, add the mussels and stir. Cover the pan and allow the mussels to cook until they open, shaking the pan a few times, about 4 mins. Remove the bouquet garni. Add the cream, stir and heat through. Taste for seasoning (mussels are always pretty salty, so you shouldn’t need to add anything). Scatter over the parsley, then transfer the mussels to a big warm serving dish or serve them straight from the pan.
GOOD TO KNOW iron • gluten free
PER SERVING 339 kcals • fat 20g • saturates 10g • carbs 2g • sugars 2g • fibre 1g • protein 20g • salt 1.1g