Tag Archives: saffron

Risotto with saffron and cavolo nero

Everything that slows us down and forces patience, everything that sets us back into the slow circles of nature, is a help.
~ May Sarton

Risotto, the making of – in past tense:

Made steaming chicken stock in a deep saucepan with two salty cubes and two cups of water. Chucked in nine forest-green cavolo nero leaves. Left the greens to simmer in the boiling stock for seven minutes, or maybe eight. Took out the leaves and set them aside.

Swirled a pat of butter and a spot of olive oil in a skillet on a flame. Watched the butter and oil sigh and meander around the pan in shimmering golden dribbles. Added in half an onion, diced. Stirred the onion through to fragrant-hood. Added in a cup of arborio rice, a pinch of saffron, two bits of lemon peel, a sprig of rosemary… gave it all a stir.

Added in wine in stages. Added in warm stock in stages. Stirred. Stirred some more. Stirred till my arm felt even heavier than my eyelids.

Chopped the cavolo nero leaves. Added the chopped leaves, a squeeze of fresh lemon and a sliver of butter to the rice in the final minute of cooking.

Dished up three portions, complete with salt, pepper and wispy yellow shreds of parmesan cheese.


I got some saffron in Spain.

I’ve never cooked with it before, and it was hard to count out 10 strands (for our dinner) and resist the urge to add more – since I can be quite liberal with my spices – but here it is… my first experiment with it.

Spaghetti with a sauce composed of 10 saffron threads soaked for 20 minutes in hot water, 1/2 onion, 3 cloves garlic, salt, pepper, 1 tbsp caster sugar, juice and zest of half a lemon, some olives, some sliced almonds, 220g chicken – cubed, 1 zucchini, 1 tomato, dribble of cream, dribble of chicken stock, dribble of white wine… I liked the flavour of the chicken and sauce, but not the appearance of this dish or its overall effect – thanks Matt for eating it, and John for not falling off the couch in horror!

There is, I feel, a lot more that can be done with saffron… stay tuned for more saffron experiments!

Oh yes, and speaking of wine, it was such a surprise to find out that Mindfood magazine selected a casual note I wrote to the editor to be “letter of the month”! Thank you, Mindfood and Villa Maria, for this great Christmas present!