Saffron: The Spice With Mystique

As the most expensive spice on the market, saffron asserts an unparalleled exotic flavor in every recipe it graces. Though saffron has an affinity for seafood and chicken recipes, this heady spice can make even dessert an extra-special occasion. Here are three saffron recipes that will light up your senses.

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Saffron Pasta & Seafood

Serves 8

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup warmed dry white wine
  • Pinch of saffron threads
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cups fish stock
  • 24 mussels, scrubbed and debearded
  • 3/4 pound medium uncooked shrimp, shelled and deveined
  • 1 pound fettuccini
  • 1/4 cup chopped flat leaf (Italian) parsley
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan

Directions:

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Combine wine and saffron in a small bowl and set aside.
  2. In a stockpot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and red pepper flakes. Cook, stirring often, for five minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds.
  3. Add the fish stock and saffron-infused wine; bring to a boil. Add mussels. Cover and cook for 1 minute. Add the shrimp; cover and simmer until the mussels open. Discard mussels that don't open.
  4. Meanwhile, cook pasta in the boiling water until al dente, according to the package directions. Drain, reserving 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid. Return the pasta, cooking liquid and about 1 cup of the shellfish-saffron broth to the pot, and toss to coat.
  5. Divide the pasta, shrimp and mussels among eight pasta bowls. Garnish with the chopped parsley and Parmesan.

Saucy Saffron Chicken

Serves 8

Ingredients:

  • Pinch of saffron threads
  • 1/4 cup hot water
  • 1 cup sliced almonds
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 ounces chorizo, casing removed, sliced
  • 1 large onion, quartered, thinly sliced
  • 1-1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast, cubed
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 cup chopped dried plums
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/3 cup cold water
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 6 to 8 cups cooked brown basmati rice

Directions:

  1. Crumble saffron in a small bowl with water and set aside.
  2. Place a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add almonds and cook, stirring often, for three minutes or until just lightly toasted. Remove almonds and set aside.
  3. Heat oil in a Dutch oven and add chorizo. Cook, stirring often, until browned. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Add onion and cook, stirring often, until softened. Add chicken and cook, stirring occasionally, for 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Deglaze pan with saffron water, stirring to remove any browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Stir in lemon zest and juice, dried plums, and parsley.
  5. Whisk together water and cornstarch. Pour into chicken mixture and bring to a boil. Cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened. Serve with basmati rice.

Saffron Almond Ice Cream

Serves 4

This exotic ice cream pairs especially well with an almond biscotti and dark cup of coffee.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pint premium vanilla bean ice cream, softened
  • 1 pinch saffron threads, crushed to a fine powder
  • 1 cup toasted almonds, coarsely chopped

Directions:

  1. Transfer ice cream to a bowl and mix in saffron and almonds.
  2. Refreeze until firm.

More saffron recipes

Saffron Poached Salmon
Saffron Mussel Stew

Saffron Aioli

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