This dish seems a bit decedent, given the sheer amount of saffron in it. But: I had a small container of the stuff that was getting a bit long in the tooth, so using it up all at once wasn't an issue. It sounded so good, and I was on an orzo kick, so it was a perfect choice for a weekday meal.
My orzo was thick, for some reason the liquid I boiled the orzo in boiled down quickly, so that when the actual orzo was cooked there was a risotto-like texture to it. I loved the way it came out, though.
To me, the taste of saffron is one that is hard to describe; instead I'll try to just say how this overall dish came out: thick and creamy, slightly tart, fresh-tasting from the parsley, with a very heavy essence of saffron. Helpful, yeah. How would you describe that saffron flavor, anyway? Almost like licorice, sorta like rosewater, but musky. Maybe I should just say it tastes like the 70s, but in a good way ;) At any rate, this is a great little dish. Give it a shot.
Saffron Orzo with Shrimp
(from Everyday Pasta, 2007)
4 c. reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 tsp. saffron threads
1 lb. orzo
6 Tbsp. olive oil
1/4 c. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Juice of 1 lemon
3 tsp. salt
2 tsp. black pepper
1 lb. large shrimp, peeled and deveined
In a large pot, bring the chicken broth to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low, bringing the broth to a simmer. Add the saffron, stir, and simmer until the saffron has bloomed, about 5 minutes.
Return the heat to medium and bring the stock to a boil, then add the orzo and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain the orzo and transfer to a large bowl. Add 3 Tbsp. olive oil, the parsley, half the lemon juice, 2 tsp. salt, and 1 tsp. pepper. Combine thoroughly.
In a bowl, toss the shrimp with 1 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. pepper, and the remaining lemon juice. Heat the 3 Tbsp. olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the shrimp in a single layer and cook until the shrimp are just turning pink, about 2 minutes per side. Add the shrimp to the bowl with the orzo. Toss to combine and serve.