Mussels with Riesling, Citrus and Saffron

The light, creamy Riesling sauce is a great showcase for plump mussels. Fresh citrus, saffron and olives give the dish its Moroccan character. Slideshow: Cooking with White Wine 

Total Time:
50 mins
8 1-course servings


  • 2 navel oranges

  • 1 ruby red grapefruit

  • 1 1/4 cups Riesling

  • 1 1/4 cups water

  • 4 thyme sprigs

  • 2 garlic cloves

  • 4 pounds mussels, scrubbed and debearded

  • 1/2 teaspoon saffron threads, crumbled

  • 1/2 teaspoon finely grated orange zest

  • 1/2 cup heavy cream

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

  • Toasted brioche croutons (see Note), sliced pitted Moroccan olives and pea shoots, for garnish


  1. Using a sharp knife, peel the oranges and grapefruit, removing all of the bitter white pith. Cut in between the membranes and release the sections into a bowl. Coarsely chop the sections and return to the bowl.

  2. In a large pot, combine the Riesling, water, thyme and garlic and bring to a boil. Add the mussels, cover and cook until the shells open, about 5 minutes. Transfer the mussels to a bowl and remove them from the shells.

  3. Strain the broth and return it to the pot. Add the saffron and orange zest and boil until the broth is reduced to 2 cups, about 8 minutes. Add the cream and simmer until thickened, about 5 minutes. Add the butter and swirl until melted. Add the mussels.

  4. Spoon the mussels and broth into bowls. Garnish with the chopped citrus, brioche croutons, olives and pea shoots and serve.


To make the croutons, cut 1-inch slices of brioche into cubes and transfer to a baking sheet. Bake in a 350° oven for 10 minutes, or until toasted.

Suggested Pairing

It’s certainly not mandatory, but pairing a dish that has wine in it with the same sort of wine often makes for a good match. Zesty Australian Riesling pairs especially well with the citrus in this dish.

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