by Holladay Allen
Native Foods Cafe
When I was a kid, my mom used to make the best saffron yellow rice. It was from a box…. and it was delicious. When I became vegan, and started really reading ingredients, I stopped eating it as it contained chicken fat, ew. But that prompted my interest in making a homemade version of saffron yellow rice… and the world of saffron is quite interesting. Saffron is the dried stigma of the saffron crocus flower, and since each flower only has a few bright crimson stigma each and the stigma have to be collected by hand…. Saffron is the most expensive spice in the world!
What in the world is a stigma anyways, besides a social mark of shame? Well, the stigma is the part of the flower that receives pollen, and actually germinates the pollen. The stigma knows what’s up too. It can reject a certain type of pollen if it knows, you know, that it just isn’t going to work out. The stigma of the saffron flower is long and slender, and quite lovely.
Native Foods Cafe vegan restaurant, uses this photo courtesy of http://flowerinfo.org/saffron-flowers
Saffron has been used for more than three thousand years, and today Iran produces about 90 percent of the world’s saffron. Depending on what type of saffron you buy and from where you buy it, you are looking at dropping around $5 a gram on average, based on my Internerd findings. It is well worth the money and a little goes a long way. Here is one of my favorite saffron rice recipes modified from the Whole Foods Stovetop Vegetarian Paella a bit, as I added the vegan shrimp, some cayenne, and changed the lemon garnish to lime. Serve with homemade Sangria and the Gipsy Kings playing in the background.
(Native Foods borrowed this pic from the Whole Foods website)
1 yellow onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 cup uncooked jasmine rice
¼ tsp saffron strands
¼ tsp cayenne, or more if you like it picante
1 (14-ounce) can whole tomatoes, drained
1 small green bell pepper, cored, seeded and chopped
1 small yellow bell pepper, cored, seeded and chopped
1 cup frozen lima beans
2 cups vegetable broth
1 cup frozen peas
1 package vegan shrimp, thawed (they’re good, I promise)
Lime wedges for garnish
Heat oil over medium heat in a large skillet. Add onions, garlic and thawed vegan shrimp and cook for 3 minutes. Add rice and saffron and continue to cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute more. Add tomatoes and stir to break up with a large spoon. Add peppers and lima beans and cook, stirring, for 1 minute more. Add broth and bring to a boil. Boil for 2 minutes, then reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and cook for 10 minutes. Check to see if more liquid is needed to prevent sticking. If so, add about 1/4 to 1/2 cup water, then cover and cook another 5 minutes.
Stir in peas and cook until just tender and liquid is absorbed. The rice should not be over-cooked, but just slightly al dente. (If not tender enough, you may add a bit more water and continue cooking.) Serve garnished with lime wedges.
Native Foods Cafe, vegan food, vegan, vegan restaurant, saffron, vegan recipes