Lee & Lou: Saffron Pasta with Shrimp + Tarragon

By Lee & Lou Havlicek.
Lee & Lou Cook.

Saffron Pasta with Shrimp

What’s that old stat about how many times a day guys think about sex? Every few seconds or so? A quick Google says it’s, specifically, every 7 seconds.

Whether or not that particular piece of data is totally accurate, it makes for a pretty solid analogy for the way our brains operate when it comes to pasta. We just thought about it now… and… now… Yup, there it is again. See?


Pasta can fulfill all sorts of meal necessities, all sorts of food cravings. We have our old, easy standbys—like this time of year, we’d eat pasta with summer tomatoes, sweet corn, a drizzle of garlicky olive oil, and fistfuls of fresh herbs all day every day if it didn’t mean our bodies would basically turn into human-sized noodles. But one of the beautiful things about pasta is that while it can be something you toss together during your speediest kitchen sprint with whatever you have lying around, it can also be something much more considered (though we’d argue whichever route you go, it’s always our favorite).

Saffron Pasta with Shrimp

Sometimes you raid your fridge in hopes of finding a few things inside that could be pretty tasty when tossed all together with your favorite De Cecco and enough cheese before running out the door to the rest of your evening. And sometimes, you spend your afternoon working dough by hand to just the right texture, rolling it out to just the right thickness, attentively simmering ingredients you brought home just for this one purpose, lovingly plating everything up and settling in for a long meal with a crisp glass of wine on a hot July night.

This recipe is the second sort.

Saffron Pasta with Shrimp


Saffron Pasta with Shrimp

Two spectacular women in our lives, our friends Margaret and Martha, helped spark today’s appropriately spectacular dish: Margaret, with the stunningly deep red saffron she brought back for us from a recent trip, and Martha, with the beautiful assortment of eggs she shared with us, fresh from her very own hens. An inspiring roster of treasures.

It’s true that making your own pasta dough, steeping saffron, using the freshest eggs (and other ingredients) you can get your mitts on takes more consideration, more time than the average day’s meals.

Saffron Pasta with Shrimp

saffron steeping

But it doesn’t take too much time. Not so much that it feels wasted or like a chore or unnecessarily spent. And it’s always less than you imagine before you actually do it—and more fun, too. Really, making a meal from scratch using the freshest ingredients available takes just enough to make you feel like: Yeah, I made something today with my own hands. Yeah, I made something that I feel good about and feel good about sharing with other people. And yeah, I’m going to EAT it because I EARNED it and it’s going to be great.

That sounds pretty nice.

Saffron Pasta with Shrimp

The flavors we have going on in this dish, our Saffron Pappardelle with Shrimp + Tarragon, are full of summer and freshness. We’ve got seafood (shrimp: check), fresh herbs (tarragon: check), heat (chili flakes: check), and color (saffron: check). The bright tarragon flavor is unexpected (in part because it’s waaaay underused in cooking): citrusy and refreshing with some licorice-y notes—but don’t let that deter you! We really, really don’t like licorice, but we really, really like tarragon. And it goes exceptionally nicely, not only with the shrimp (which it spruces up a little), but with the saffron’s earthiness, giving the pasta a super satisfying balance of flavors.

So here’s a great way to spend a too-hot afternoon: making something that you can be pretty pleased with yourself about so that you can make the most of these slightly cooler, cicada-soundtracked, firefly-lit, delicious-smelling midsummer nights. Just make sure you have a bowlful of Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams (Savannah Buttermint Ice Cream, you say? Key Lime Buttermilk Frozen Yogurt, anyone? Atlantic Beach Pie Ice Cream, friend?) on hand to finish things off real correct… For the recipe, and oh so much more Lee & Lou click here.


Lee & Lou Cook: leeandloucook.com
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Lee on Twitter: @leehavlicek

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