What we know as saffron spice comes from a plant called Saffron crocus, which is indeed a type of spring-blooming crocus. The parts of the plant that are used in saffron spice are the stigmas and the styles in the center of the flower. These are dried, and thus turned into a culinary wonder. Although it is an expensive spice, a little bit of it goes a long way in flavoring a variety of dishes.
Saffron rice makes a lovely accompaniment to meat dishes. You simply cook white rice with butter and onion, and then add chicken stock, salt and saffron spices and let it cook.
Saffron spice can also be added to grain dishes such as quick-cooking couscous. Saute chopped vegetables that are in season, and serve it over a bed of couscous to which saffron has been added. You will also note that saffron spices will tint your food a golden color, making the foods look appealing and taste delicious.
Saffron can be a flavor ingredient in salad dressings and mayonnaise. Mayonnaise can easily be made from scratch in your blender. Place an egg in the blender, and add some mustard. Whirl it, and then slowly pour in a thin stream of vegetable or olive oil as the blender runs. This will emulsify the mixture, making it thick and creamy. This mayonnaise flavored with a hint of saffron is wonderful for use in sandwiches with seafood fillings or ham. It can also be served as a dip with cooked artichokes.
You can also add a little saffron spice to your vegetable dishes. You can saute thinly sliced vegetables that are in season, and coat them with a light cream sauce to which saffron has been added. This can be served over pasta or rice for a wonderful main dish. You can buy saffron online from Starwest.