This creamy saffron pasta is a bowl of technicolor decadence, straight out of a fine dining restaurant. Rich and creamy with the wonderful floral, musky, earthy, semi-sweet taste of saffron. Undeniably delicious and almost impossible to describe saffron is a taste like no other and here, paired with cream and wine it makes the perfect sauce for flat pappardelle noddles.
Bring a large pan of water to a boil, salt it generously and add the pappardelle.
Meanwhile, peel and chop the shallot.
Melt the butter in a medium skillet over medium-low heat.
Add the shallot and cook for 2 minutes until they start to soften. about 2 minutes.
Turn the heat up and add the wine, let it bubble and evaporate until it has reduced by at least half.
Turn the heat down to medium then add the cream.
Use a pestle and mortar to grind some of the saffron together with ¼ teaspoon salt. Add this to the cream mixture along with the remaining threads. (see note 3)
Allow the sauce to simmer until slightly thickened and the saffron color has permeated the cream.
Remove 1 cup of the pasta cooking water, then drain the pasta and transfer it to the skillet with the sauce.
Add the ¼ cup of the cooking water and the chopped parsley and toss to coat.
Taste the sauce and season with more salt and black pepper as required.
The thick Pappardelle ribbons allow the sauce to really cling, but if you can't find pappardelle then a thick cut tagliatelle or fettuccine will work. Avoid tubular shapes like penne or rigatoni, if you want a small shape then something flat like a farfalle or a spiral Ricciolini.
We know saffron is expensive but it is the main flavor to this sauce, there is really no substituting it here, so be generous and enjoy your special dinner.
Grinding the saffron helps to release the flavor and color. But keeping some of the threads whole gives a wonderful look to the finished dish, as you get flecks of saffron threads on the pasta.