Saffron is a spice that's been on my list of ingredients to cook with but always seemed too intimidating to try. This was a result of its price & its status as a high quality, "legendary" spice as Bon Appetit likes to describe it. As one of the most expensive spices in the world, it felt like if the dish I was making with it didn't come out absolutely perfect, I would've failed the culinary world & not do Saffron the justice it deserves. A little dramatic, right?
I eventually mustered up the courage to buy some this week, although I wasn't exactly cautious or cost conscious in my search. My local Whole Foods sold a half gram of Saffron for around $8 [it was surprisingly on sale from $10]. After doing my due diligence in Saffron research before grocery shopping, I knew better than to purchase my first Saffron at Whole Foods, especially considering it was under $10. We all make mistakes though, right?
If you want to buy your own Saffron, I would suggest buying it either online, at a Mediterranean or Middle Eastern specialty food market, or at your local spice shop. You'll almost always receive better quality & a better bang for your buck [at least compared to Whole Foods] despite its general expensiveness. For my D.C. spice lovers, Bazaar Spices sells three different types of Saffron at Union Market - some at $10 per gram, so basically double the Saffron for the same price I paid at Whole Foods! They also sell online for my out-of-town friends!
Approaching this recipe, I knew I wanted to make Saffron rice for the first time but I just didn't know how. I followed Tori Avey's wonderful recipe which was virtually fool proof. Basmati rice is easy to make and this recipe quelled all of my fears about cooking with Saffron. I cut the portions in half from Tori's original recipe to cook for 1 [& meal prep], but this is also a great recipe for a dinner party as a side to a meat like lamb or chicken.
1 cup Basmati rice
About 1/4 teaspoon Saffron threads
2 cups water
1/2 yellow onion
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
About 1/2 bundle Honey Gold potatoes
About 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
2 teaspoons Thyme
Salt & pepper to taste
Course sea salt [for garnish on potatoes once smashed]
Parsley for garnish
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 40 minutes
Total time: 50 minutes
Servings: 4 servings
Preheat oven to 350 degrees [F].
For your potatoes, mix together 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, juice of one lemon, Thyme, salt & pepper to taste. Check marinade each time you add a new ingredient to see if you need more lemon or spices.
In a bowl, mix together marinade with Honey Gold potatoes & let sit.
Using a mortar & pestle, grind half of your Saffron threads until it is in powder form. Gently mix with the other half of your Saffron threads that are unground.
Heat 1/4 cup of water & pour over Saffron & let sit for 5 minutes. This will let the flavor of the Saffron bloom & make your rice extra aromatic!
While the Saffron water sits, heat a big soup pot on medium heat & dice 1/2 yellow onion.
Sauté onions on medium heat with 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil until beginning to caramelize. About 10 minutes.
Rinse 1 cup Basmati rice & strain. Then add to the onions & sauté for about a minute after beginning to caramelize.
Add Saffron liquid, 2 cups water & 1 teaspoon salt to rice & onions & bring to a boil.
Once water comes to a boil, put heat on low, cover pot & cook rice for 20 minutes or until all of the water has absorbed & rice has become fluffy & soft.
On a baking tray lined with parchment paper, bake marinated potatoes for about 20 minutes while rice cooks, flipping once halfway through. Honey Gold potatoes are tiny so make sure to watch your potatoes so they don't burn. All ovens cook differently & you want your potatoes crispy & slightly charred on the outside but still soft enough to smash.
When potatoes are done cooking, use the bottom of a glass jar & press down on each potato to lightly flatten or "smash" them. Season potatoes with a bit of course sea salt & whatever juice left you can squeeze out of the lemon.
When rice is finished cooking, serve with potatoes & garnish with some chopped Parsley.