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Saffron  [SAF-ruhn]     It's no wonder that saffron — the yellow-orange stigmas from a small purple crocus (Crocus sativus ) — is the world's most expensive spice. Each flower provides only three stigmas, which must be carefully hand-picked and then dried — an extremely labor-intensive process. It takes over 14,000 of these tiny stigmas for each ounce of saffron. Thousands of years ago saffron was used not only to flavor food and beverages but to make medicines and to dye cloth and body oils a deep yellow. Today this pungent, aromatic spice is primarily used to flavor and tint food. Fortunately (because it's so pricey), a little saffron goes a long way. It's integral to hundreds of dishes like bouillabaisse, risotto Milanese and paella, and flavors many European baked goods. Saffron is marketed in both powdered form and in threads (the whole stigmas). Powdered saffron loses its flavor more readily and can be easily adulterated with imitations. The threads should be crushed just before using. Store saffron airtight in a cool, dark place for up to 6 months.

    If you've got it, but don't know what to do with it, below are some traditional dishes that the spice complements nicely.

Salads chicken; egg; pasta; potato; seafood; slaw
Soups & Stews bouillabaisse; chicken; fish; tomato
Fish & Poultry chicken; duck; most fish and shellfish; turkey
Meats beef; lamb; veal
Vegetables carrots; corn; green beans; onions; tomatoes; winter squash
Pasta; Grains;
Dried Beans
bulghur; couscous; lentils; pasta; polenta; rice
Cheese & Egg Dishes cheese spreads; cottae cheese; scrambles; soufflés
Sauces butter; cream; curry; fish; meat; tomato
Desserts cakes and cookies
Miscellaneous butter spreads; marinades; relishes; savory and sweet breads; tomato juice

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