Saffron is one of the most sought after spices in the world. The delicate threads from the purple saffron flower are treated like gold. This isn’t only due to the incredible flavor and orange hue they provide to seafood dishes, but also because their harvest is so labor-intensive. This delicious, basic recipe for an elegant shrimp and zucchini pasta is the perfect way to practice using the distinct flavor of the saffron threads.
The saffron flower is grown mainly in Europe, in countries such as Greece, Spain, and Italy, but it is also found in numerous Asian countries, such as China. My question about saffron was always “what in the world makes the spice so darn expensive??” Well, the answer is simple. Each purple flower grown on a saffron farm contains only three threads, and each thread needs to be picked out by hand one by one. Not only is that a bummer, but the farm itself is not a field of a bajillion purple flowers to pick! So, the number of flowers are limited, which is too bad considering it takes about 70,000 flowers to make 1 pound of saffron!
This pasta recipe is one of the best ways to enjoy shrimp in a pasta. It goes best with spaghetti, but will be perfectly fine with another type of pasta as well.
Spaghetti with Shrimp and Zucchini
- 500 g Spaghetti
- 3/4 lb. Shrimp, peeled and divined (about 18 shrimp)
- 5 medium Zucchini
- 1/3 cup Olive Oil
- 0.2 g Ground Saffron (a few pinches)
- 5 cloves of Garlic
- Dash of Red Pepper Flakes
- 3 tbsp. Chopped Parsley
- Salt and Pepper
Boil a large pot of salted water for the pasta. Put in AT LEAST two handfuls of salt (about 12 tbsp.) for 500 grams of spaghetti. It may sound like a lot, but it really brings out the flavor in the pasta. Plus, most of the salt gets washed out with the water anyways.
Slice the zucchini into thin disks on a cutting board.
Over low heat in a large sauce pan, heat the garlic and red pepper flakes in the olive oil until the garlic softens.
Turn up the heat to medium. Add the zucchini to the pan and let it cook for about 5 minutes, or until softened to eat, but not mushy.
Add the shrimp to the zucchini and let it cook for about 3 minutes, or until shrimp turn golden.
Mix the ground saffron with a little water in a cup. Add the saffron-water to the shrimp and zucchini.
Mix in the chopped parsley.
Salt to taste and turn off the pan.
Throw in the spaghetti in the boiling water, and cook the pasta according to the package’s instructions (usually about 7 minutes).
Drain the pasta and mix it in the hot shrimp and zucchini. Serve warm with a touch of freshly cracked pepper.