Mussels with Tomato, Saffron and Spaetzle

Serves 4

SPAETZLE

¾ cup flour

2 eggs

¼ cup milk

Salt, to taste

1. Place flour in a medium bowl. In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs and milk. Make a well in the center of the flour and add the eggs and milk. Whisk together, gradually incorporating all of the flour until you have a smooth, thick batter.

2. Bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil. Fill a large bowl with ice water. Place a steamer insert or colander over the pot. Pour about ¼ of the batter into the steamer and press it through the holes with a rubber spatula. Remove the insert and gently stir the spaetzle. The dumplings are done when they float to the surface, about 30-60 seconds. Remove with a slotted skimmer and place in the ice bath. Continue with remaining batter in 3 additional batches. Once dumplings are cool, strain and set aside.

MUSSELS

½ teaspoon saffron threads

¾ cup dry white wine

2 pounds mussels, rinsed and debearded

⅔ cup canned diced tomatoes

8 tablespoons butter

1 large shallot, finely chopped

1 small bunch cilantro, leaves picked

1. In a small bowl, combine the saffron and wine and set aside to steep.

2. Place an extra-large skillet over high heat. Have a domed lid nearby. When the skillet is very hot (a drop of water beads up instantly), add the mussels and cover immediately. Keep covered and over high heat for 1-2 minutes.

3. When most of the shells have opened, add the wine and saffron, tomatoes, butter, and chopped shallot. The liquid will bubble up vigorously, so be careful. Cover, shake pan gently, and cook over high heat for another minute or two, until all the mussels are open and the broth is golden and emulsified. Add the cooked spaetzle, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer uncovered for another minute, just until noodles are heated through. Taste for seasoning and add more salt if you like. Divide among 4 shallow bowls, garnish with cilantro leaves, and serve immediately. 

By Claudia Catalano. Originally published in The Boston Globe.