This creamy saffron pasta is a bowl of technicolor decadence. Rich and creamy with the wonderful floral, musky, earthy, semi-sweet taste of saffron. Undeniably delicious and almost impossible to describe saffron is a taste like no other and here, paired with cream and wine it makes the perfect sauce for flat pappardelle noddles.
Saffron is an expensive spice so this isn’t an everyday dish. But for a special occasion this creamy saffron sauce is the perfect way to use it. How much you add it really up to your taste and budget. We like to add a generous first finger and thumb pad sized pinch, this really infuses the cream with the wonderful perfumed flavor of saffron.
Make sure you buy saffron stems rather than saffron powder. Saffron powder will go musty quicker and also it can sometimes be mixed with other lesser spices.
We used pappardelle here and it is the perfect pasta for this creamy saffron sauce. The thick ribbons allow the sauce to really cling. Most larger grocery stores will stock pappardelle, but if you can’t find it then a thick cut tagliatelle or fettuccine will work.
Avoid tubular shapes like penne or rigatoni, if you want a small shape then something flat like a farfalle or a Ricciolini.
Side: This saffron pasta is delicate yet filling, so serve this with some roasted broccoli. Or if you want to add a protein to this dish serve this pasta with a pan fried cod loin. The sauce also works amazingly with sweet seared scallops.
Wine: To compliment the rich creamy saffron sauce we suggest something bright and fresh. If you can find an Italian Friulano or Vermentino then they would be our first choice. If not then a Sémillon will be a great substitute. Although white would be our first choice for the red lovers a Valpolicella Classico wouldn’t be a bad choice.
Creamy Saffron Pasta
- 15 oz pappardelle (425g)
- 1 shallot
- 3 tbsp butter
- 1/3 cup white wine
- 1 1/2 cup heavy cream
- generous pinch of saffron
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 tsp chopped fresh parsley
- salt and black pepper
Bring a large pan of water to a boil, salt it generously and add the pappardelle.
Meanwhile, peel and chop the shallot.
Melt the butter in a medium skillet over a medium low heat.
Add the shallot and cook for 2 minutes until they start to soften. about 2 minutes.
Turn the heat up and add the wine, let it bubble and evaporate until it has reduced by at least half.
Turn the heat down to medium then add the cream, saffron and 1/4 teaspoon salt.
Allow the sauce to simmer until slightly thickened and the saffron color has permeated the cream.
Remove 1 cup of the pasta cooking water, then drain the pasta and transfer it to the skillet with the sauce.
Add the 1/4 cup of the cooking water and the chopped parsley and toss to coat.
Taste the sauce and season with more salt and black pepper as required.
We know saffron is expensive but it is the main flavor to this sauce, be generous and enjoy.
If you are looking for an decadent dinner that doesn’t use the worlds most expensive spice then try out Chicken Pasta with Rosemary Cream.