Saffron is one of the most expensive spices in the world, and while it should be used with respect, it's worth the investment for the incredible notes it imparts in sweet and savoury saffron recipes.
The intensity of the golden yellow hue that's unique to saffron, as well the depth of savoury flavour, are difficult to capture with any other spice (keep in mind these tips for buying authentic saffron). It's not hard to see why saffron is loved in many international cuisines.
Saffron has a long history of use for medicinal purposes. It has been administered as an aphrodisiac, as an anti-depressive, and to address a host of other maladies. None of these properties have been confirmed by modern science, but it has been proven that this most precious of spices has antioxidant effects.
Saffron threads or saffron powder in recipes?
When cooking with this special spice you can choose either saffron threads or saffron powder. The advantage of saffron powder being that it can be added directly to a dish without toasting or pre-soaking and it dissolves easily into the food, evenly flavouring the entire dish. However, saffron threads are always a superior choice, and nothing quite beats the aspect they give a dish.
Experiment with both in these saffron recipes which range from the Italian street food favourite, arancini, Moroccan tagine and Indian style cauliflower, to the heady heights of risotto topped off with a gold leaf and even a lemony saffron cake.
Sweet and Savoury Saffron Recipes
SQUID INK RISOTTO WITH SAFFRON SPHERE
Try this complex chef creation, where saffron is the crowning glory, in this squid and rice dish. Find the squid ink risotto recipe here.
Ingredients: shallots, fish stock, saffron, vegan gelatin, thyme, garlic, olive, oil, squid, Carnaroli rice, white wine, squid ink.
Saffron adds depth of flavour and colour to this succulent and hearty meat dish of roasted lamb knuckle. Discover the lamb recipe with saffron potatoes here.
Ingredients: garlic, lemon zest, olive oil, lamb, potatoes, lemons, lamb stock, white wine, saffron, parsley.
This Indian recipe for cauliflower allows the white vegetable to take on the golden hue of saffron, elevating the humble vegetable to exotic heights. Try the cauliflower recipe with saffron here.
Ingredients: cauliflower, saffron, ghee, garlic, ginger, cumin, green chilli pepper, salt, pepper.
SAFFRON, POTATOES AND GREEN BEAN SALAD
A dash of saffron adds unexpected colour and finesse to this simple dish. Try making it with the simple recipe for saffron, potatoes and green bean salad.
Ingredients: potatoes, green beans, broad beans, parsley, white wine vinegar, vegetable stock, pepper, aromatic herbs, saffron, olive oil, salt.
ITALIAN ARANCINI (DEEP FRIED RICE BALLS)
Saffron adds warmth and depth inside these fried balls of rice that form classic Italian street food from Sicily. Here's the perfect arancini recipe.
Ingredients: rice vinegar, saffron, cheese, butter, eggs, salt, pepper, mozzarella cheese, all-purpose flour, breadcrumbs, oil, peas, bay leaf.
SAFFRON RICE PATTIES: RECIPE
Vegetarian rice patties with coriander, scallions and garlic, slightly caramelised and fried. The saffron gives the simple flavours another dimension. Learn how to make rice patties with your leftover rice here.
Ingredients: oil, scallion, saffron, rice vinegar, coriander, parmesan cheese.
ITALIAN SAFFRON RISOTTO FROM MILAN
Saffron is integral to the classic Milanese risotto. The distinctive colour and flavour are famous in Northern Italy.
Ingredients: butter, onion, white wine, Carnaroli rice, beef stock, saffron, Parmigiano cheese, edible gold.
SAFFRON CHICKEN TAGINE
Saffron is widely used in northern African cookery, and where better than in a tender slow-cooked tagine. Find out the recipe for chicken tagine.
Ingredients: spring chicken, olive oil, onion, garlic, ginger powder, saffron, green olives, lemon, artichoke, coriander, parsley.
LEMON AND SAFFRON SWEET BARS
Saffron adds an irresistible savoury edge to these vibrant sweets, which will appeal to adults as well as kids. Here's how to get baking lemon bars.
Ingredients: flour, baking powder, butter, sugar, eggs, milk, lemon, corn starch, vanilla extract, saffron, icing sugar.