Posted by: Michelle Mitton | August 3, 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.

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