Special Diet Information

Coumadin® (Warfarin)
This recipe is NOT safe for Coumadin (warfarin) users.

This recipe contains cheese and some of those who are lactose intolerant may be able to tolerate it.

This is NOT a low sodium recipe.

GERD / Acid Reflux
This recipe contains GERD triggers and those with GERD may wish to avoid it.

Gluten Sensitivity
This recipe is safe for those who are sensitive to gluten.


"If you can mock a leek, you can eat a leek."
- William Shakespeare, Playwright

The refrigerator light goes on...

I do love saffron and it is pretty expensive, especially when you look at the price per pound. The great thing is that it doesn’t take much saffron to add a lot of flavor. Twenty threads or so is about 1/4 teaspoon and will add a ton of flavor to your recipes.


Saffron filaments are the dried red stigmas and the white style of crocus flowers. For me this has always been a lovely twist of fate because crocus are my favorite flower. I remember that they were the first flower that I could call by name. Our front yard was covered with them. Little did I know their value.

Describing the flavor of saffron is difficult because the taste is so complex. It is at once aromatic, woody, and umami with just a touch of sweetness. To me saffron tastes yellow - like a warm summer day in the woods.

I suppose that you could go out in the yard and pick the flowers, pulling the stigma out for drying yourself, but I prefer to pick up a few grams at the store. Besides, a gram of saffron about 500 threads. As each flower only yields 3 threads, going to the market is quite a bit easier. 

Most of the available saffron is harvested in Spain, but countries in the Middle East, including Iran, are popular producers. The latter saffron is not as intense to my palate and I generally try to find the Spanish import.

How much saffron? I generally use about 10 threads per serving, counting them out carefully. For some recipes I will make a saffron infusion: essentially saffron tea. I place the saffron in the bottom of a Pyrex measuring cup and add about a quarter cup of boiling water. Letting the threads steep in this way results in a more powerful aromatic saffron flavor especially in quick saute recipes.

For you saffron junkies out there John Humphries has written a lovely book called The Saffron Companion. I must admit that I don't purchase many specialty cookbooks like this one, but his writing is so wonderful, and because most of the recipes are Mediterranean or Middle Eastern they are both delicious and healthy.


Chicken Leek Risotto

Servings = 2 | Serving size =about 2 1/2 cups

Cooking Time = 30 Minutes

This recipe can be multiplied by 2, 3.

This recipe makes good leftovers but reheat gently.

1 tsp olive oil
2 large leeks (cleaned and sliced)
1/2 cup arborio rice
1/8 tsp dried tarragon
2 cups water
1/4 tsp saffron threads
1/4 tsp salt
fresh ground black pepper
8 ounces boneless skinless chicken breast (sliced into strips)
1 ounce Parmigiano-Reggiano (grated)

Place the olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the green tops of the leeks and cook stirring frequently. As they get limp add the white part of the leek and cook for another few minutes until they are just limp.

Add the Arborio rice and the tarragon and stir. Cook for about two minutes and add the water stir.

Add the saffron, salt, pepper and stir. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer the rice for about 15 minutes. Check the doneness of the rice occasionally. Add more water 1/4 cup at a time as needed.

As the rice is almost done add the chicken and another 1/4 cup water. Stir, increase the heat to medium and cook for about 5 minutes until the chicken is cooked through. Add the grated Parmigiano and stir until blended. Serve.

Nutrition Facts

Serving size = about 2 1/2 cups

Servings = 2


Amount Per Serving

Calories 486 Calories from Fat 71
  % Daily Value
Total Fat 8g 12%
    Saturated Fat 3g 16%
    Monounsaturated Fat 3g
    Trans Fat 0g
Cholesterol 74mg 25%
Sodium 624mg 26%
Total Carbohydrates 65g 22%
    Dietary Fiber 5g 18%
    Sugars 7g
Protein 37g
Vitamin A 61% Vitamin C 38%
Calcium 29% Iron 38%
Vitamin K 86 mcg Potassium 659 mg
Magnesium 99 mg