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Saffron ravioli with mussels, fennel cream sauce and chorizo

Saffron ravioli with mussels, fennel cream sauce and chorizo

Last month we were among an exclusive group of journalists visiting Yerseke, a harbor town in Zeeland, Holland. While the insipid rain was a little less than inspiring, our first voyage out to sea left us ravenous for more. We embarked from the delta of the Schelde river, cruising upon brackish waters mixing with the nearby North Sea.

We were there to witness the ceremonial first shipment of bottom farmed mussels.

Joseph trying a raw mussel fresh from the Schelde

After a brief voyage under a grey sky, our ship encountered another shipping vessel. As we approached, a solitary fisher in a sunshine yellow raincoat and saffron orange pants stood upon its deck. He was the notorious ‘Mussels Man’. Hauling up a fresh harvest of Zeeland mussels, a conveyor of shellfish began to spin, delivering thousands of the black husks with their silent inhabitants into a large pool on the other end of the ship. Finally the lone fisherman collect them in a bucket. 

A moment later, our ship now sliding in alongside his, the bucket was passed across the thin line of water between us. And there on the deck, in the falling mist, we pried open sand-coated carapaces and poured a supple mouthful directly onto our tongues. 

Saffron ravioli with mussels, fennel cream sauce and chorizo

Having received a sack of mussels each, we were ready to get cooking once we had shed our raingear. Perhaps inspired by the crisp colors worn by the fishermen, we decided to add saffron to the ravioli. The chorizo oil sat glistening on the surface of each. Some even balled up like raindrops on a coat in the middle of a summer storm.

Our saffron ravioli with mussels, fennel cream sauce and chorizo turned out perfectly! The mix of silky mussels and crunchy chorizo created a unique texture. The fennel added an herbal aroma that paired nicely with zesty lemon and exotic saffron.

This is a recipe for those ready to take a trip, rain or shine.

15 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 45 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Servings 4 servings


  • Pasta machine
  • Ravioli mould


Pasta dough

  • 2 cups "00" flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 ts olive oil
  • 1/4 ts salt
  • 2 pinches saffron
  • 1 ts lemon zeste

Chorizo oil

  • 1/3 chorizo thinly sliced
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

Filling & sauce

  • 3 tbs olive oil
  • 1/4 cup onion diced
  • 1 fennel julienned
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 4 pinches saffron
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 1 pint heavy cream
  • 1/2 stick butter
  • salt & pepper tot taste


Saffron pasta dough

  • Dump the flour a clean work surface and make a deep, wide well in the middle. Pour in the eggs, olive oil, salt, saffron and lemon zest. Begin mixing the eggs with your fingers, slowly incorporating some of the flour without the eggs spilling over the edge. Keep mixing everything together until you have a consistent enough ball of dough that you can knead.
  • Wash and dry your hands. Knead the dough for about 15 minutes on the lightly floured surface until it’s a smooth, homogenous ball of dough. It should no longer stick to surfaces and be resilient. Knead in more flour if it's too sticky.
  • When you poke the dough with your finger and it springs back, it's sufficiently kneaded. Wrap the dough loosely in beeswax paper or clingfilm and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes.
  • After your dough has rested: roll it out in sheets for the ravioli.

Chorizo oil

  • Heat the olive oil in pan and fry the slices of chorizo until they are nice and crispy.
  • Scoop out the chorizo and lay it on a paper towel to soak up the excess oil.

Filling & sauce

  • Heat the oil in a large saucepan and sauté the fennel and onions until translucent. Add the garlic, saffron, white wine, and mussels.  Cover and cook until the mussels open (3-4 min).  Scoop the mussels out with a slotted spoon and set aside, discarding any unopened ones.  Spoon the mussel meat out of the shell and set aside. Keep the vegetables and cooking liquid.
  • Puree half of the sautéd fennel and onion with just enough cooking liquid to make a solid filling.
  • Place the pasta sheets on a ravioli press and make sure you press it down a bit to create pockets for the filling. Place 1 tbsp of the fennel puree in the center of each ravioli and top with 1 mussel. Brush the edges and center of the dough with a little water or egg wash and lay another pasta sheet on top.  Press down lightly with a rolling pin to squeeze out any excess air and to separate the ravioli.
  • In another pan, bring the remaining cooking liquid and vegetables to a simmer. Add the heavy cream and bring to a boil.  Reduce to a simmer and add butter, salt, and pepper to taste.
  • Bring a large pot of salted water to boil and cook the ravioli until they are tender and rise to the surface (3-4 minutes). Drain and transfer to the pan with the sauce. Toss gently and serve drizzled with some of the chorizo oil and backed chorizo bits.
Keyword ravioli, mussels

Jennifer Schleber

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About us

Joseph Puglisi (travel writer. & photographer) - Jennifer Schleber (Chef)

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