Posts Tagged ‘Saffron’

Green Saffron Pilaf

Don’t be scared of the cayenne in this dish, it’s not enough to be spicy, but it adds a nice compliment to the saffron. The key to a fluffy pilaf is to saute the rice in oil long enough to turn most of the kernels an opaque white. Once you master this simple technique, you’ll never have chewy brown rice again!


1.5 C brown basmati rice

1 pinch saffron

1 dash cayenne pepper

3 cloves minced garlic

1 C fresh chopped spinach

1 C fresh green beans, snapped to 1 inch sections

4 tsp canola oil

2 tsp salt

3 C water


1. Heat 2 tsp oil in skillet. Saute the rice over medium heat until most of it has turned an opaque white and smells toasty, about 8 minutes.

2. Add water, saffron and salt. Simmer over med-low heat for 40 minutes. While rice is cooking, wash and chop the spinach, green beans and garlic.

3. Remove rice from heat and let sit undisturbed for at least 10 minutes.

4. While the rice is resting, heat 2 tsp oil over medium high heat in a small sauce pan. Saute the garlic until brown, about 5 minutes. Add green beans to pan and stir. Add spinach on top and let cook for 2-3 minutes. Stir in the spinach and continue cooking until the beans turn a bright green, another 3-5 minutes.

5. Pour veggies over rice and fluff with a fork.


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It seems like Jo and I went bananas with saffron this weekend! I made this surprisingly delicious meal with vegetables and spices served over minty orzo! I say surprisingly because I’ve never used mint with a pasta, with no other spices, and then the combo of spices with saffron cooked in the veg was simply out of this world!! I have to admit, I ate 2.5 servings in one blow! I had my first bowl with a glass of Eroica Riesling, and then I thought..mmm..I want a bit more, so I made another bowl. Then I couldn’t help myself to a small 3rd helping!! Ah!! I guess it could be worse, stuffing myself on veg isn’t as bad as, say, eating an entire batch of cookie dough! Even with the red pepper flakes it wasn’t in any way spicy, so have no fear!


2 TBSP olive oil
2 medium onions, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 medium red bell pepper, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (I used a jar of roasted red bell)
1 large sweet potato or 2 small red potatoes, peeled and diced into 1/2-inch pieces
Pinch saffron
4 C low-sodium vegetable broth
2 C broccoli florets
1 C frozen peas
1.5 C orzo
1/4 C chopped fresh mint
1/2 tsp salt


1. In large nonstick pan, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium heat. Add onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 5 to 6 minutes. Add garlic, red pepper flakes, cumin and cinnamon. Cook, stirring often, until fragrant, about 1 minute.
2. Add bell pepper, potato, saffron and 2 C broth. Increase heat and bring liquid to a boil. Reduce heat, cover pan and simmer, stirring once or twice, until potato is tender, about 10-15 minutes. Add broccoli and peas. Cook 5 minutes longer. Remove from heat.
3. Meanwhile, in medium deep-sided skillet, heat remaining tablespoon oil over medium heat. Add orzo and cook, stirring often, until lightly coated with oil, 2 to 3 minutes. Add remaining 2 C broth (or water) and pinch of salt to orzo. Bring to a boil. Stir a couple of times; cover and reduce heat to simmer until all liquid is absorbed, about 12-15 minutes.
4. Divide orzo among 6 plates, top with mound of vegetables and sprinkle with chopped mint.

This was so good with a glass of Riesling and a slice of French Boule! And with only 300 calories per serving, I have no guilt about eating as much as I did..and neither should you!!

*Note: If you’re needing gluten-free, make sure your pasta of choice is gluten-free!!

*Variations: As yummy as the orzo is with these veg, sometimes you want a change from pasta..so I bet this would also be super yummy served over rice. You want something hearty enough to handle the sauciness of the veg, and to soak up the juices. I think it might be good with quinoa if you’re not looking for a grain that can hold it’s own with the veg and juice – I think quinoa would become very incognito in this dish. So play around with different pastas and/or grains!

Happy Cooking!


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Saffron Taters

I got some luscious baby golden potatoes at the farmer’s market this week, and wanted to do something special. So since our mom asked for saffron recipes, here are my saffron taters.


2 lbs potatoes, in 1/2 inch slices

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper

pinch saffron threads, lightly crushed

3/4 C water

2 Tbs oil


Heat the oil in a wide skillet to med-high. Lay the potatoes in a single layer and cook for 5 minutes, or until browned. Turn over and brown the other side, another 5 minutes. Pour in the water and spices. Reduce heat to medium, or slightly less. Simmer 10-12 minutes, until water is gone and potatoes are cooked through.

Variation: If you don’t like saffron to be the central flavor of the dish, or just want something with a little more oomph, add 1/2 tsp each of cumin, coriander and dried garlic along with the water. Then sprinkle with some fresh cilantro before serving.

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Mother has requested recipes that include saffron (besides your standard saffron brown rice) because she acquired some during her travels and wanted to know what else to use it in. Actually she requested quite some time ago, but I got backlogged on the request list. So she wants saffron recipes and I am here to please. I have made a list, and here’s the first on the list. I realize it’s fairly close to a saffron rice dish, but this is millet..and lime juice..and veggie goodness! I took this pilaf recipe to a whole new level: a pealaf level! This recipe should serve 8 as a side dish…ergo, it’s good for those us cooking for 1 and like to have leftovers for lunch during the week!


2 tsp olive oil
2 shallots, peeled and finely diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 carrots, finely chopped
1 celery stalk, strings removed, finely chopped
3/4 tsp coarse salt
1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper
1/4 tsp saffron threads, crumbled
1 C millet (FYI: millet does retain a bit of a crunch, if you’re used to quinoa that gets soft..just be aware, millet doesn’t do that)
1/4 C frozen corn
2 C water or veg broth
juice of 1 fresh squeezed lime juice
1/2 C frozen peas (but feel free to lose your marbles and add as many peas as you desire)
3/4 C chopped fresh cilantro or parsley
1/2 C slivered toasted almonds *optional


1. Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the shallots, garlic, carrots, celery, salt and pepper, and cook until the vegetables begin to brown. Add the saffron and millet, and cook stirring, 1 minute more.
2. Add the water, or broth, and lime juice. Bring to a simmer, cover, reduce the heat to low and let cook until all the liquid is absorbed, about 25 minutes. At about 20 min (when it only has about 5 minutes to go), add 1/4 C frozen peas.
3. Turn off the heat, and let sit, covered, until tender, 10 minutes more.
4. Add the cilantro and toasted slivered almonds (if using), and stir with a fork to combine and fluff the pilaf. Serve garnished with more cilantro, along side steamed green beans and a stuffed bell pepper.

Variations: This would also make a wonderful stuffer for Stuffed Bell Peppers! You could also use a lemon in place of the lime, and another herb (like basil or something) in place of cilantro..if that’s how you roll.

*Alternatively, if you can’t find millet…try Quinoa, Orzo pasta, Brown Rice…whatever you can get! Obviously cooking times will vary depending on which you choose..

Happy Cooking!

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