I was in charge of keeping my friend Valerie’s garden alive while she and her husband were traveling a couple of weeks ago, and her zucchini plants started to yield the first blossoms and baby zucchini.
Zucchini blossom are not easy to come by in Hawai’i because they are still not widely known, and I haven’t been to Italy in the summer in some years. I was thrilled at the thought of having some, and a dish with linguine came to mind. Then I thought I would add saffron, which I love. On my way home I thought I would stop to pick up some shrimp as they would make a nice addition and complete my lunch with some protein.
Doesn’t it just look divine? It tastes just as good as it looks, it is easy to make and does not take much time.
You will only need a few ingredients: the pasta you fancy in the moment – I used linguine – a few baby zucchini and blossoms, fresh shrimp and good quality saffron. You do know how to cook pasta by now, don’t you? All right, so let’s get going.
LINGUINE WITH ZUCCHINI BLOSSOM, SHRIMP AND SAFFRON
yields 1 portion – multiply as needed
– 80 gr./ca. 3oz. linguine (or pasta of your choice)
– 3-4 baby zucchini – if the flower is still attached and fresh even better
– 4-5 extra zucchini flowers
– 4 large shrimp, shelled and deveined
– a pinch of good quality saffron powder – use the tip of a spoon so none of it gets wasted on your fingers
– extra virgin olive oil
– 1 teaspoon freshly chopped parsley
– sea salt
– coarse sea salt for the pasta water
– freshly cracked black pepper
The “sauce” can be prepared while the pasta cooks.
I chose to cut the shrimp in half completely, so they would make for smaller bites. But you can just butterfly them if you prefer. If you add a little extra pasta and a couple more shrimp, this can be a one-plate complete meal.
1. Bring the water for cooking pasta to a boil in a medium-large pot, add a handful of coarse sea salt and, when the water boils, add the pasta and stir, cooking until al dente.
2. When the pasta is only 3-4 minutes away from being ready: heat 2 Tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil in a sauté pan or skillet. Add the zucchini and shrimp, season with salt and pepper and flip/toss or stir. Make sure the heat is high so as to color both zucchini and shrimp, as they will be cooked in no time.
Add a little of pasta water (about 3 Tablesoons, no more), then sprinkle in the saffron and stir. The pasta water will help dissolve and distribute the saffron powder, and then will evaporate. Add the zucchini blossom for last, as they will go limp right away in the heat. Test for salt and adjust as needed. Remove from heat. I have a gas stove so I just turn off the burner.
3. Pour the cooked pasta and water through a strainer, shake to drain well, and add to the pan with the zucchini & shrimp, turning on the heat again. Drizzle a little more extra-virgin olive oil and flip/toss or stir. Remove from heat. Transfer to a hot plate and sprinkle with freshly chopped parsley to finish.
Wasn’t that easy? If you leave out the shrimp you still have a wonderful and tasty dish that is vegetarian. Actually, it is also vegan, as it is only fresh egg pasta that, as the name says, contains eggs.
Do you have a favorite pasta dish that you like to make? And from 1 to 100, how much do you love saffron?
If you make this pasta recipe, I would love to know how you liked it.
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Monica, I love saffron (and all of the ingredients you use above) but I haven’t seen saffron powder anywhere. I only find the threads. Where do you get the powder?
Sonia, well, if you crush the threads you get the powder. But I must say that I have found it hard to find saffron in Hawaii. I have had to have my mom send me some from Italy. So far, that’s still the best one I have ever used. They come in single-serve sachets and yes, they are a little expensive. I just googled and found a link for several saffron powders on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Wholespice-Saffron-Powder/dp/B000MSXW8M
You might also want to check other specialty supply stores like Dean and De Luca and others.
As a rule of thumb, if it’s cheap, it’s not saffron.
I found a site also called Beanilla that sells saffron from Greece or Spain…and both average 5 star reviews from customers.
I have ordered it in the past from a site called La Tienda, an internet source for Spanish products.
BTW, I never did receive notice that you had replied…I just came back to read it after your FB message…
Very cool. I will look into that site, too.
As for the notices of reply, I am looking into that to see if I can resolve it. Very weird. I am glad we checked this out. Thank you for helping.
An absolutely stunning dish Monica! We are lucky enough to get zucchini flowers here but sometimes they’re a bit wilted and not as fresh and lovely looking as these!
Thank you, Lorraine! And I got more today, with zucchini as well. I know what I will be eating in the next few days! 🙂
wow beautiful recipe and the colours are so visually stunning… definitely a recipe i will be recreating. thanks for the inspiration!
Thank you Thalia! I am sure you will enjoy it. M