You know what’s in season in Greece right now? Big, fat juicy lemons! Last year when I traveled to Nafplio (Peloponnese) I recall seeing groves and groves of lemon trees lining the roads. It was August so they all looked like limes but I was imagining myself stopping at the side of the road and picking juicy lemons for a dish like this.
This pasta dish is ready in the time it takes to boil your pasta: the shrimp take a couple of minutes to cook, the sauce is basically olive oil, garlic, lemon zest and pasta water. The dish is subtle in flavours yet still flavourful. I’ve added Greek saffron into the dish to add a wonderful yellow colour and add another dimension to the flavour.
Saffron from Greece is an ancient spice and it is cultivated in northern Greece, the prefecture of Kozani to be precise. Greeks call Saffron “Krokos Kozanis” and it is an appellation product protected by the European Union.
Like all quality saffron, it is pricey but a little goes a long way…a pinch of saffron threads will do. This dish offers a taste of sweet shrimp, garlic and the very best in olive oil from Greece, the bright flavour of the lemon zest and some lemon juice for balance. The chives/scallions make it savory, the saffron’s flavour subtle and there’s just enough heat to warm you.
Spaghetti With Shrimp, Lemon & Saffron (Μακαρονια με Γαριδες, Λεμονι & Κροκος Κοζανης)
500 gr. package of spaghetti
sea salt to taste
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
16-20 medium sized shrimp, peeled and deveined
12 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
1/4 cup dry white wine
pinch of Kroko Kozani (Greek saffron)
2-3 ladles of pasta water
zest of 3 lemons
juice of 1 lemon
1/2 tsp. Boukovo (chilli flakes)
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 chopped fresh chives (or scallion greens)
drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil
black & white sesame seeds for garnish
- Place a large pot of water on your stovetop and bring to a boil, season well with water and add your pasta once boiling. Cook for 6 minutes then drain (remember to reserve some pasta water).
- Season your shrimp with a bit salt and pepper and toss. Now place large skillet on your stovetop along with a bit of olive oil and heat to high. Add the shrimp nad saute each side for about 30 seconds or until just pink. Remove from the skillet and reseerve.
- Lower the heat to medium-low and add the remaining olive oil and add the garlic slices, saffron threads and sweat the garlic for 2-3 minutes. Add the wine and reduce for 2-3 minutes (taste to ensure the alcohol has cooked down). Turn the heat off and wait for your pasta.
- Once your pasta is cooked, drain and add the pasta into the sauce along with a ladle of pasta water and toss. Now add another ladle of pasta water, the shrimp, the lemon zest and toss. Add another ladle or two of pasta water (if still too dry) along with lemon juice to taste and the chopped fresh parsley and toss.
- Divide and plate, drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil, sprinkle some sesame seeds and some Boukovo or chilli flakes. Serve with an Argyros Estate Atlantis white.
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