saffron pasta with pancetta, shrimp and snapper

May 18th, 2009 · 28 Comments

because that’s what was in my pantry – and fridge – and freezer. friends were coming by on short notice and i needed to shop from my ever abundant kitchen. anything to appease some of the guilt from being perpetually overstocked and avoid a trip to the market. so although this was pretty much a throw together kind of dinner, there was a lot of to choose from. i try and do better in this regard, but i am a serial food buyer – forever curious.

it may soon be time for another month or so of "eating down the house". it could use happening…

but i had a box of beautiful saffron pasta that had been waiting patiently to be used, and some pinky orangey skinned snapper fillets that had been bought on a whim and thrown in the freezer nearly too long ago, plus the tail end of a bag of medium frozen shrimp bought for my sweet old kitty and used as treats. he’s been gone 4 months now and it was time to finish them up. pancetta is always a staple in my freezer, and i had an onion, some garlic, the remains of a still fresh bunch of parsley, a bottle of pinot grigio and a little glass vial of saffron that i’d been hanging on to…

there’s not much here in the way of a recipe. i could get specific but it’s really unnecessary and quite frankly, i couldn’t even begin to remember. feel free to use shallots instead of onions. for the pork – you can use chorizo, bacon or italian sausage instead of pancetta. or try some dry vermouth instead of white wine. add mussels, lobster, clams… it’s all going to work together – and it’s going to be delicious.

the onion gets cooked for a few minutes in olive oil, then add some diced pancetta, followed by a few minced garlic cloves. next the wine – i used about half a bottle, then add the saffron. throw the pasta into the water and add it into the pan when it’s just barely done – al dente to the max. i cooked the fish in a smoking hot cast iron skillet, crisping the skin really well. the shrimp were thrown in at some point but i can’t recall exactly when.

regarding the saffron, i used a full half gram of hand harvested d.o. from la mancha.. a big fat pinch. i’m a more is more kinda gal. and it was wonderful. and i’d do it again. and soon.

like many of you, this is the way i cook nearly all the time. i wing it. i change things. i substitute. i was inspired by a post i saw a few weeks back and it got me thinking.

and that’s really all it ever takes…

Tags: fish · pasta · seafood

28 responses so far ↓

  • 1 jim voorhies // May 18, 2009 at 9:12 am

    There’s this recipe in one of my cookbooks that uses saffron and it’s delicious. So I ran across it one day, thought “Ooh, I need to make that again.” and added saffron to the grocery list. Once I finally got the saffron, I couldn’t recall what the reicpe was and I’ve since misplaced the saffron. C’est la vie.

  • 2 claudia // May 18, 2009 at 9:17 am

    jim – as much as i’d like to – i simply cannot help you here…

  • 3 Jennifer Hess // May 18, 2009 at 9:23 am

    I can almost smell the saffron – mmmmmm. Beautiful.

  • 4 maris // May 18, 2009 at 10:22 am

    I love the bright, cheerful color of this dish!

  • 5 krysta // May 18, 2009 at 10:24 am

    i love throw together dishes, they are my favorite, no recipes and no rules. i love the color of that pasta.

  • 6 lisaiscooking // May 18, 2009 at 3:29 pm

    I think I’m in the more is more camp when it comes to saffron. Love it!

  • 7 rebekka // May 18, 2009 at 5:54 pm


  • 8 Peter // May 18, 2009 at 5:56 pm

    I LOVE saffron pasta- every time I’m on Houston St. I try to stop in Raffetto’s and get some of theirs.

    It’s like paella, but easier, and no less tasty…

  • 9 Peter // May 19, 2009 at 4:30 am

    Now here’s a decadent dinner…saffron…most expensive spice, perhaps?

    Shredding some snapper sounds like a good way to dress some pasta or…use up leftover fish.

  • 10 goodfoodmatters // May 19, 2009 at 12:38 pm

    “I’m just mad about saffron….

  • 11 cookiecrumb // May 19, 2009 at 1:14 pm

    That’s food. And that’s beautiful.

  • 12 Melissa // May 19, 2009 at 2:59 pm

    I just bought saffron for the first time last week and refrained from using it that evening. I want to try it first in a pasta methinks…

  • 13 lo // May 19, 2009 at 4:14 pm

    … but, Claudia, it’s just lovely! I’m a huge fan of saffron, so maybe that’s the draw… but I’m also a huge fan of using what’s there.

    We could survive on our pantry and freezer foods alone for weeks and weeks. So, you’ve got my compassion there. We really need to consider downsizing to make room for the summer harvest… I should probably take your lead and start using some things UP.

  • 14 democommie // May 19, 2009 at 7:52 pm

    Boy, that looks a lot better than what’s in my freezer at the moment–damn, I thought I finished off the last of the skwerl a while back! Unfortunately the only thing that was in there that was immediately usable was the 375ml bottle of Chopin Millenium. Since I have a blood draw at 8:45 tomorrow morning I went with an avocaodo, tomato, roasted chicken and romaine salad.

    I went to the store to buy some saffron on Sunday. I came home empty handed because it was $20 for .036 oz. , 1 gram. That works out to around $9K/lb. I’ll get some the next time I’m in Syracuse at one of the ethnic grocers.

    My neighbor asked me to give him a hand with something the other day and I spent all of an hour straightening up a gate post that a snowplow had knocked out of line and putting a panel in what used to be a pass through window. He wanted to pay me, I told him he could buy me a couple of beers and a burger. Tonight he and his wife came over with two 12 packs of Magic Hat, a rib eye and a filet. I told him he should have just paid me–it would have been cheaper! Now I’m going to have to find some time to drink!

  • 15 Marco in Italia // May 19, 2009 at 11:06 pm

    Such a nice pasta! I would love to eat this one and it is very early morning for me but still i would be happy to get my fork.

  • 16 The Italian Dish // May 20, 2009 at 5:27 am

    Sometimes, this is just the best way to cook. . .

  • 17 Heather // May 20, 2009 at 9:29 am

    One of our favorite fancy-casual places does a pasta with saffron cream and mussels that is to DIE for. This just reminded me of it. Yum.

  • 18 Samantha // May 20, 2009 at 1:34 pm

    Another great pasta dish! Keep them coming, ok? I am a huge saffron devotee! (Is that spelled right?)

  • 19 katiek @kitchensidecar // May 21, 2009 at 1:41 am

    I like dishes on the fly. The urgency makes for great invention. The saffron and seafood seem to make sense. Applause for flavor profile!

  • 20 SpinachTiger // May 21, 2009 at 7:56 am

    My most favorite stress free and successful meals are the “thrown together” with what’s on hand. This is how we should all eat. It brings out creativity. Saffron pasta anytime, anyplace, especially with seafood.

  • 21 JUNE BUG // May 21, 2009 at 8:03 am

    Oh saffron and pasta and seafood how i love thee. Now just add some cream and I love thee A LOT more. Not that this doesn’t sound wonderful because it totally does. But cream……. mmmmm…….

  • 22 Rachel (S[d]OC) // May 21, 2009 at 12:37 pm

    Wow. You make THAT on the fly? I want to have your kitchen. I never have things like saffron pasta (great idea) on the shelf or pancetta in the freezer. I must remedy.

  • 23 kristie // May 21, 2009 at 2:04 pm

    Saffron pasta is absolutely gorgeous. Just don’t tell your guests that the shrimp are “leftover cat treats.”

  • 24 Heidi Robb // May 22, 2009 at 4:44 pm

    Oh, delicious.

    Next time you are cooking for me.

  • 25 Donald // May 23, 2009 at 2:55 pm

    These “throw-together” type of dishes are the best IMHO.

    This is like one big plate of lovely!

  • 26 claudia (cook eat FRET) // May 24, 2009 at 12:15 pm

    thanks all – this was pretty smashing…

    pasta is my life

  • 27 we are never full // May 26, 2009 at 5:20 pm

    nice… real nice. i always love mixing the meat w/ the fish. this looks friggin great. i love saffron and pasta and never really considered smashing the two together – except in fideua.

  • 28 queens // Jul 16, 2010 at 5:58 am

    I love saffron and pasta.

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