Saffron Chicken Tagine
Everyone loves North Africa’s deeply flavored tagine (the stew), but no one wants to make it because they think it needs to be cooked in a tagine (the earthenware cooking vessel). Not true! This version is designed for a large enameled cast-iron casserole. Don’t be intimidated by the long list of ingredients either; it consists mostly of spices and easy-to-find staples that you will use over and over.
Creamy Saffron Risotto
Risotto alla milanese, the traditional accompaniment to osso buco, is flavored with saffron, which is the world's most expensive spice. The deep-red filaments are the dried stigmas of a variety of crocus and they're harvested exclusively by hand. Each crocus has three stigmas and it takes more than 14,000 to make one ounce of saffron.
The classic accompaniment to osso buco is saffron risotto. This simple alternative takes only 15 minutes to prepare.
Lassis are ubiquitous in India; the shakes, made with yogurt or buttermilk, can be sweet or salty. The Victorian-style Imperial Hotel in India's capital, New Delhi, where Peggy Markel stopped on her way to Rajasthan, has an extensive selection of lassi. This one is elegantly flavored with saffron.
Saffron Cucumber Pickles
Coconut Cake with Saffron Cream
Saffron's earthy yet sweet flavors make the spice versatile enough to work in both savory dishes and desserts. Here, Tyler Brown of Nashville's Hermitage Hotel uses saffron to flavor the pastry cream for his moist, airy take on coconut cake. Instead of making a classic round, Brown bakes the cake in a 9-by-13-inch pan and cuts it in half, then stacks the layers to make a handsome rectangle.
Saffron Brown Rice
This easy stovetop saffron brown rice is a wonderful base for roasted chicken, braised lamb, or Indian and Thai curries.
Semolina Pudding with Saffron and Nuts
As a child, Neelam Batra ate a hot, creamy version of this comforting dish for breakfast--minus the silver leaf and saffron--and a firm, warm or cold variation like this one for dessert.
Honeyed Carrots with Currants and Saffron
A casserole of meat, vegetables and fruit, tzimmes is often flavored with honey and cinnamon and cooked very slowly. Here, sliced carrots are quickly simmered with fresh orange juice, honey, ginger and a pinch of saffron, then simmered with dried currants before serving.
Citrus Salad with Saffron Dressing
For Jose Andres, Christmas always means clementines, the easy-to-peel citrus with a sweet, apricot-like taste. He pairs them with tart grapefruit in a juicy, refreshing winter salad flavored with a bit of saffron--a common Spanish ingredient.
Shrimp with Saffron Rice and Fennel Salad
Chicken Breasts with Spinach, Leek and Saffron Sauce
Monkfish Stew with Saffron Broth
Mimi Thorisson makes a quick and easy fish stew, flavoring the luscious broth with white wine, saffron and aromatic vegetables.
Mussels in a Saffron-Citrus Cream Sauce
San Francisco chef Mourad Lahlou favors Mediterranean mussels, which he sources from the Pacific Northwest. “They’re plump and juicy, and they don’t toughen up as much as other varieties when you cook them,” he says. He serves the mussels in a cream sauce perfumed with saffron and lemon and orange zests.
Pasta with Saffron Sausage Sauce
The saffron-colored pasta called malloreddus looks like small, rigged shells. Sardinians make it at home, but commercially produced versions are sold at specialty food shops and Italian groceries. If you can't find malloreddus, mini pasta shells are a suitable substitute.
Seafood Capellini with Saffron
Squid Pizza with Saffron Aioli
Michael Emanuel (an alumnus of Berkeley's Chez Panisse) tops this pizza with an irresistible mix of Provençal flavors: salty-sweet roasted squid, creamy aioli and crushed red pepper (French piment d'Espelette would also work well). The remaining aioli can be used as a dip for vegetables or a spread for sandwiches.
Saffron Fingerling Potato Salad with Mixed Greens and Tomatoes
Roasted Winter Vegetables with Saffron Couscous
This twist on the traditional North African way of serving couscous calls for roasting vegetables in the oven instead of simmering them on the stove. This concentrates the vegetables' flavors and brings out their sweetness.
Saffron Rice with Cashews and Raisins
This rice is Indian inspired and so we call for traditional basmati, but Texmati rice will give much the same effect, and in fact any white rice is good made this way. Substitute almonds for the cashews if you prefer.
Saffron Shellfish Stew with Black Olive Croutons
Sometimes served as a special at B&G Oysters or Sportello, this stew is brimming with shrimp, lobster, clams and scallops. As a garnish, Lynch bakes croutons with black olive paste; for a shortcut, use olive bread.
Littleneck Clam Soup with Butter Beans and Saffron
Ale-Poached Shrimp with Saffron Sauce
Here, Luca Cerato poaches shrimp in the juniper-and-chamomile-spiced Belgian-style blond ale made by the CitaBiunda brewery. The shrimp are so richly flavored and delicious that they need little enhancement beyond the blanched asparagus and simple saffron-cream sauce he serves with them. (They would also be great served chilled, with cocktail sauce.)
Persian Roasted Chicken with Dried Cherry-Saffron Rice
Anoosh Shariat, the executive chef at Park Place on Main in Louisville, Kentucky, likes to use supertart dried sour cherries in this buttery, exotically fragrant rice dish. But raisins, dates or pecans are also delicious.
Risotto-Style Ditalini with Mussels, Clams and Saffron
Fish Stew with Peppers, Almonds and Saffron
Chef Way The Clarks use homemade fish stock in this smoky stew, which they sometimes cook in a cazuela (a glazed terra-cotta dish from Spain).
Easy Way Make the stew in a lidded casserole, replacing the fish stock with water. It will still taste delicious.
Seafood Stew with Saffron Zabaglione
To prepare this brothy stew full of wonderfully moist snapper, tender squid and plump mussels and clams, chefs at Don Alfonso teach students to prepare the ingredients separately so nothing gets over- or undercooked. A lush saffron zabaglione, which gets stirred into the stew, presents another fun challenge: to cook egg yolks in wine slowly over the gentle heat of simmering water until they're fluffy but not scrambled.