Mussels in Orange, Tomato and Saffron Sauce

A pairing of simple and pure ingredients, where the acidity of the tomatoes and oranges plays with the aromatic sweetness of saffron. This is more of a sauce than a broth, which allows me to enjoy each bite with more generous serving of tomatoes. This consistency is great to serve as an appetizer.

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The technical aspect of this recipe resides in peeling the tomatoes and removing the seeds for a smooth, velvety texture. If you wish to make an express version of this recipe, you can omit this step. However, when time allows, try to make this version and note the difference, mostly in texture.

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Ingredients:
2 – 2.5 lbs mussels
4 tomatoes
1 shallot
4 oranges or 1 cup orange juice
1 lemon
Fresh thyme
A few threads saffron
2 Tbsp olive oil
Sea salt and pepper to taste

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Saffron has a unique and distinctive flavor. It is most widely known to be an essential ingredient of paella, and marries particularly well with seafood in general. It can also be used to flavor desserts. Because of its strong flavor, only a few threads suffice.

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Peel and finely chop the shallot.

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Mark the tomatoes with an X on top with the tip of a knife.

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Bring a saucepan of water to a boil and plunge the tomatoes for 30 seconds.

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Remove the tomatoes as soon as the skin around the X starts to separate.

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Let them cool enough to handle. Peel them. That should be a very easy process.

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Quarter them. Remove the seeds from each section under running water.

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Place them in a colander as you go through the process and once they are all drained, chop them and set aside.

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Heat the olive oil in a large pot, add the chopped shallot and cook for about two-three minutes on medium heat.

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Add the tomatoes and orange juice. Continue to cook on medium-low heat…

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… until the tomatoes are almost puréed.
Add thyme and saffron and let sit to infuse the flavors. Now the sauce is ready for the mussels. Raising the heat to high, and when the sauce starts bubbling, add the mussels at once. Only add the ones that are closed and discard the ones that are open. Cover for a few minutes until all the mussels open under the heat. Now discard the ones that remain closed.

20130517-220550.jpg Season lightly as necessary. Mix to serve and add lemon juice. Enjoy!

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