Saffron-Butter Pasta

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This is an easy, and reliably delicious pasta sauce that reminds me of scampi. I know what you’re thinking: “saffron…really?” Saffron is the red filament (known as the pistil to Biologists) from a particular flower. For context regarding it’s value, imagine having to harvest a tiny thread from the center of a few fields of flowers…it’s the main reason why the real thing remains one of the most expensive spices. I’ve gotten around this barrier a few times by looking for packets of “Azafran Flor” in the Latin American spice section in most large grocery stores. There’s a lot of good stuff there in general, but in this case, it appears to be the inner section of the flower around the coveted pistil. It doesn’t release the same intense saffron flavor as the threads, but it does impart the yellow color, and somewhat subdued flavor you’d expect from saffron. Of course, you could use the real thing on this, but with a little extra work, you really wont miss it here.

Aside from this saffron hack, basil, and lemon thyme combine for one of the simplest, and most flavorful sauces I’ve made in a while. The latter two are much easier to come by at my place at least– we’ve been growing both on our porch since last year. They are great for chicken, or seafood, and especially flavorful in simple butter sauces like this one.


Once you get all those ingredients together, sear your meat, then use the same pot to make your sauce once it’s done. White wine would be a great addition here, but I kept it simple with tomato, lemon juice, and garlic. As the pan deglazes, and everything softens, you can add more butter, herbs, and saffron flowers until a thin sauce forms. Add in your sliced chicken, and let it reheat.


Keep the heat around medium to prevent the butter from browning, then mix pasta into the sauce right before serving. Don’t forget the table-side parmesan and basil!

Let’s cook.

You’ll need:

2 Chicken Breasts

2 Cups Cherry Tomatoes, halved

4 Cloves of Garlic, sliced thinly

10 Sprigs of Lemon Thyme

2 Tbs Basil, shredded

1 Lemon, juiced and zested

4 Servings of Pasta

1 Cup Butter

1/2 Cup Parmesan Cheese

2 Tbs Flour

1 Tbs Saffron Flowers

1 Tsp Chili Flakes

1 Tsp Garlic Powder

2 Tbs Olive Oil

Salt & Pepper to taste

  1. Season chicken with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and olive oil. Transfer into a ziplock bag, add lemon thyme, seal and place in the fridge for one hour.
  2. Place a heavy pan on high heat, then sear the chicken on all sides. Transfer the pan to a 425 degree oven, and cook until well done. Remove the chicken from the oven, and let rest before slicing.
  3. Place the searing pan back on medium heat, then add tomatoes, lemon juice, and garlic. Stir to deglaze. Add butter, flour, saffron flowers, salt and pepper, then stir until the sauce browns. Add parmesan cheese.
  4. Slice the thicken thinly, then return to the sauce, then lower the heat. Stir in cooked pasta.
  5. Plate and serve.


One Comment Add yours

  1. mistimaan says:

    Nice recipe


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