Sunday, August 03, 2008

Saffron Orzo

Saffron OrzoNow if you look closely at this picture you'll perhaps notice that I didn't exactly use orzo in this recipe--it called for orzo but the store was out so I ended up using tiny stars instead. You won't hold it against me? It tasted just as good.

But to start at the beginning, I found this recipe through Julie at Thinking About--a wonderful blogger whom I had the thrill of meeting in person--and I swore I'd try it right away. The trouble is that saffron (if you didn't already know this) is EXPENSIVE. A little bottle like you see pictured can run close to $20 which basically means that it's cheaper to throw gold dust in your food than to use saffron.

SaffronAlso, if you didn't already know this tidbit as well: saffron comes from a crocus, originally native to southwest Asia, and the little orange threads in the flower turn any food they spice to a beautiful gold. As expensive as the stuff is, there really isn't a substitute for the flavor or color of saffron and I wouldn't have made the recipe at all if it hadn't been that I was in the spice aisle at the grocery store and this little bottle was on sale for $6 marked down from $18.

I figured it was a sign and bought it right away. Besides, the bottle was cute.

The amount of saffron needed for the recipe is about half of what the bottle holds, so you're probably not going to be eating this stuff everyday but if you've got a nice occasion to celebrate this dish is a wonderful compliment to a meal. Thanks Julie for such a wonderful recipe!

4 cups chicken stock
1 teaspoon saffron threads
1 pound dried orzo
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 lemon, juiced
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley

In a large pot, bring the chicken stock to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low, bringing the stock to a simmer. Add the saffron, stir, and allow the saffron to bloom, about 5 minutes. (I didn’t worry about this step, because I don’t think turmeric needs to ‘bloom’.) Return the heat to medium and the stock to a boil, then add the orzo and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain orzo and transfer to a large bowl. Add the olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and parsley. Toss to combine.

Sponsored by Pak Naks--Decorate your stuff with these adorable rubber charms.

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MoziEsmé said...

I've been looking for saffron for months now - ever since this Indian chef gave us his secret recipe to his amazing cashew curry. I CAN'T find it in Mozambique - surprise! So it's on my next US shopping list; hopefully it'll be on sale then and I can try this recipe out . . .

Maddy said...

Does sound yummy. When the saffron [delicate flavour] isn't an important part of the recipe [i.e. you just want the colour] then I cheat and use Turmeric instead.

Jill - GlossyVeneer said...

I think I like the inclusion of the little stars, it makes it more charming! :-)

Lunch Buckets said...

I agree with Jill - the stars are perfect!

Mean Mommy said...

Oooooh. *wipes drool*

Tammy and Parker said...

Lol! I had to wait until my store was having a buy one get one free sale.....AND I had a coupon to get my saffron.

And I'm loving those stars too!

SarahHub said...

This sounds so yummy!

By the way, I love the little stars! I use this pasta shape often, with butter and Parmesan, to make Mac 'n Cheese for my daughter.

Christie O. said...

that looks DELICIOUS!

Natasha Becoming Something said...

I have a recipe for little potato croquettes with saffron aioli that's sooooo good. And if you use instant potatoes, it's not actually hard to make at all.

I was going to send you to for some inexpensive saffron but they don't have it anymore!!! But they have freebie soups that are pretty tasty for not being homemade and if you can get past the hydrogenated crap. We think they're great for food storage.

Alice Wills Gold said...

Our friend Dave went on his mission to Spain and he likes to come over and cook "paella" on our firepit. It looks like it is very similar in ingredients. He just cooks his on a huge paella pan over an open fire.

That saffron is amazing stuff with it's coloring abilities. Although I may have to take some ideas from your recipe and pass them to Dave. Spanish paella is rather bland, even with that golden spice.

Dave is going to be SOOOO jealous that you got it so cheap.

The Source said...

Oh YUMMY! We will definitely have to try this now that I have an actual place to cook!

J at said...

I'm glad you tried's very yummy. I'm going to keep my eyes open for cheap(er) saffron, so I can try it with that instead of the turmeric. There's a couple of Indian spice shops in the area, and sometimes they sell it for less than the grocery store.

Amy said...

And THAT is why I haven't bought saffron yet. Wow! It does lok delicious though! I make orzo cooked in chicken broth and add a huge handful of parmesan cheese and parsely. It tastes like a lazy cook's version of rissoto. :)

Jane said...

That looks absolutely yummy! Can't wait to try this recipe out!

Janet said...

Wow, a recipe I've actually made before! I'll have to try yours - mine came from Moosewood. I still have some saffron left (also found on sale - who could use that stuff all the time?)