Creamy Italian Prawn Saffron Linguine.
If you have never tried pasta with saffron and you love seafood, this Italian prawn saffron linguine will have your taste buds singing! This is a fabulous authentic Italian recipe that’s creamy and luxurious! Perfect for special occasions!
Disclaimer: This Italian prawn saffron linguine pasta recipe has been sponsored by Supermarket Italy, a leading Italian and European gourmet online grocery store in USA. Although I have been compensated for this post, all opinions about the products mentioned are my own.
Linguine allo zafferano con gamberi.
Many people may not realize it but saffron has been grown in Italy since 14th century! Italians use it in a number of traditional and contemporary recipes. The most well-known of these is, most probably, risotto alla Milanese. This famous creamy golden risotto from Lombardy and dates back to the 16th century! However, pasta recipes with saffron are numerous and popular, especially in the regions where saffron is cultivated. The most common combinations are pasta with saffron and veggies like this fettuccine with saffron and zucchini or with seafood like this Italian prawn saffron linguine,
What is saffron?
Saffron is a spice obtained from the stigma of the Crocus Sativus flower. This spice has been much sought after for thousands of years! The Ancient Romans used it in their food and Cleopatra is said to have put it in her bath! However, Italians only started to grow it themselves in the 14th century.
Why is saffron so expensive?
Saffron is actually worth more than gold! This is because each flower only has 3 stigma and these have to be harvested by hand! In addition, the harvest has to be done at a specific time of the day, normally early in the morning. You need 170,000 saffron crocus to get 1 kg of saffron!! (about 75,000 for 1lb).
Saffron in Italy.
Food historians say that the first crocus sativus were brought to Italy from Spain by a Dominican monk called Domenico Santucci in the 14th century. He was from Navelli in Abruzzo and it was there that he first started to cultivate saffron.
Today the best saffron in Italy comes from the same area. Navelli saffron, also called L’Aquila saffron, is a very prized spice that locals claim is more potent and pungent and more vivid in colour than other saffron, such as the one from Spain. The saffron I used for this Italian prawn saffron linguine recipe I actually bought from a producer in Navelli!
You won’t break the bank using saffron!
Despite the fact that saffron is very expensive, using it won’t break the bank! A little saffron goes a long way! A gram of saffron contains about 300 threads and most recipes only call for a few threads. One gram of Italian saffron costs between 15 and 30 euros but it lasts quite a long time!
The key to cooking with saffron is to keep it simple. In fact, this pasta with prawns and saffron is pretty simple. The main flavours are the seafood and the saffron which also creates the colour of the beautiful creamy sauce!
Other ingredients in this pasta with prawns and saffron.
Apart from the saffron and the prawns this recipe has just a few ingredients. I used spring onions but I think shallots would work too. The other spices and seasoning are some pink peppercorns (schinus) and some fresh parsley. And, lastly, some heavy cream and butter which give this Italian prawn saffron linguine a beautiful creamy texture!
It’s best to use unpeeled prawns for this pasta with prawns and saffron recipe. They can be fresh or frozen (defrosted of course!). The reason for using unpeeled prawns is that you need to make a quick stock from the heads and shells. This really helps to flavour the dish!
I used linguine in this recipe. Linguine is like flat spaghetti and is one of the most popular pastas for seafood pasta recipes. The linguine I bought for this pasta with prawns and saffron recipe was made by De Cecco, one of the most popular pasta brands in Italy. In fact, De Cecco has won awards for their pasta and are considered by many to be the producers of the best ‘supermarket’ pasta in Italy. I use the term supermarket in contrast to small producers or artisan pasta makers.
Where to buy this linguine.
De Cecco pasta is quite widely available outside of Italy. Readers in the US can also buy it from the sponsors of this post Supermarket Italy, a fabulous online Italian gourmet food store.
Supermarket Italy is a family owned business founded in September 2009. Since then, it has become a trusted leader in imported Italian and European goods to US. They source products of the highest quality from vendors in Europe. Their mission is to bring as many high-quality, authentic Italian and European goods to Americans as possible, from world-class DOP Italian meats all the way to top-tier Italian beauty products.
Apart from the De Cecco linguine for this pasta with prawns and saffron, you can buy some other excellent Italian pasta brands from Supermarket Italy. Among my favourites that they stock are Mancini, Gentile, La Fabricca della pasta di Gragnano and Garofalo.
Treat yourself to this Italian prawn saffron linguine.
Some people might think this is a bit of a pricey pasta recipe. I guess it is a bit! Saffron isn’t the cheapest spice and prawns can be expensive! However, sometimes it’s worth splurging on something special! I‘m sure you’ll agree with me after you’ve tried this Italian prawn saffron linguine!
If you do try this divine pasta with prawns and saffron recipe, I’d love to hear what you think. Please write a comment here on the blog or post a comment on the Pasta Project Facebook page.
Your feedback means a lot to me!
Other pasta with saffron recipes
- Pasta with saffron and pancetta recipe from Abruzzo
- Pasta with zucchini flowers, saffron and ham
- Sardinian gnocchi – malloreddus with sausage, tomatoes and saffron.
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Creamy Italian Prawn Saffron Linguine
- 400 g linguine (14oz) I used linguine from De Cecco
- 1 kg Fresh unpeeled prawns (about 2 lbs) or defrosted frozen unpeeled prawns
- 2-3 spring onions or shallots
- 1/2 tsp saffron threads or powder
- 1 tsp pink peppercorns
- 30 g butter (1oz)
- 1 handful fresh parsley chopped
- 200 ml heavy cream (6-7floz)
- 1 glass water
- salt for pasta and to taste
Put the saffron threads into a glass with a couple of tablespoons of warm water. Leave to infuse and melt. Peel and slice the onions. Wash and chop the parsley.
Remove the heads and tails from most of the prawns ( you can leave one per person intact for appearance), peel the prawns keeping just the meat. Remove the black vein along the back of the peeled prawns.
Put the heads and shells in a saucepan with a glass of water and a teaspoon of salt, bring to a boil and leave to simmer for a quarter of an hour. Remove the heads and shells, strain the broth into a bowl and add the soaking saffron to it.
Put a pot of water on to boil for the pasta. Add salt once it starts to boil and bring to the boil again.
Cook the sauce
- Fry the onions in a frying pan or skillet over a low heat with the butter and some pink pepper corns. Once the onions start to soften add the saffron broth. Let it boil over a high heat for a couple of minutes, then turn the heat down and add the whole prawns first and cook for a couple of minutes on both sides. Then add the peeled prawns and continue cooking for another 5 minutes.
Before adding the cream to the sauce remove the whole unpeeled prawns but keep them warm. Add the heavy cream and mix it into the sauce. Add salt to taste.
Finish the dish
Cook the linguine al dente according to the instructions on the packet. When the pasta is cooked, save a little of the cooking water and drain. Add the pasta to the sauce. Mix everything together well . If it seems dry add a little pasta cooking water. Remove from the heat and serve immediately sprinkled with chopped parsley and with one whole prawn on each plate .