Sometime ago I was given a largish packet of saffron. I knew it was expensive so I used it sparingly. Until the other day when I saw that its expiration date was drawing near. It would have been more wasteful if I just left it to expire, so I set about to cook with it!
My first project? Paella of course!!! But not with rice, with pasta!
I planned to serve this to “the boys” – hubby’s friends who come to the house twice a month or so. They were polite enough to rave and gush at my cooking!
400 grams spaghetti
2 tablespoons hot water
large pinch of saffron
1/4 cup olive oil
1 red bell pepper, sliced into strips
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 head of garlic, smashed and minced
4 large tomatoes, sliced into large dice
4 pieces small crab
6 pieces large shrimp
4 pieces large mussels
1/2 teaspoon paprika
2 bay leaves
salt and pepper to taste
chili flakes, to taste
5 to 6 cups of fish stock or water
Get 2 pots ready on the stove – one for the spaghetti (with salted water) and the other for the paella (I took out my paella pan!!!) Start the water boiling for the spaghetti and heat the paella pan. Meanwhile, steep the saffron in the hot water.
When the paella pan is hot, quick fry the bell pepper; remove when it is almost done. Toss in the garlic, onion and tomatoes. Stir-fry several minutes. Add the saffron and the infused water.
(At this point, check the other pot, the water should be boiling, in which case, throw the spaghetti in and cook until halfway done, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.)
Add the crab, then remove when almost done. Add the shrimp and the spices (paprika, bay leaves, salt and pepper and chili flakes, to taste. Add about 4 cups of fish stock. When the mixture simmers, add the half-cooked spaghetti and cook until almost done. Towards the end of cooking, add the mussels and crab. Add stock or water as necessary. Season to taste. Do not over-cook!
Before serving, arrange the seafood decoratively on top of the pasta.