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{Moosewood Monday} Pasta Valenzana and a Blog Hop

by TastefullyJulie on June 11, 2012

Believe it or not, this was the very first (real) meal I ever cooked when I was living on my own. I purchased my first cookbook, Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home, opened right up to this recipe, and figured I’d give it a go.

Looking back now, I think it was pretty ambitious of me to start out with a recipe that included shrimp, dry sherry, and saffron. Quite obviously, my parents were still paying my food bill.

I remember being absolutely amazed by how good it turned out. Moosewood cookbooks have been my favorite ever since, and I still adore this pasta.

Saffron is the star here. I freakin’ love saffron. I would probably put it in everything if it wasn’t $25 a bottle. And by bottle, I mean a few tiny strands inside a foil baggie, tucked inside said bottle.

Whenever I cook with saffron I like to spout off a bunch of random facts about the spice. My husband is sooooo over it. But I’ll share them with you, because they’re fun!

  • Saffron is the most expensive and precious spice in the world.
  • Each saffron strand is actually the dried stigma of a small crocus flower.
  • It takes 80,000-90,000 flowers to produce only one pound of saffron.
  • And the stigmas have to be harvested BY HAND.

Maybe I’m a nerd but I’m fascinated by all this.

I follow this recipe pretty much as it’s written in the book, although I let it cook for longer than instructed. The original recipe only calls for about 5 minutes of simmering time for the sauce, but I like to allow more time for the flavors to meld. And oh how they meld.

Don’t forget to link up your recipes at the end of this post. I want to see your vegetarian (or seafood) recipes!

5.0 from 6 reviews

{Moosewood Monday} Pasta Valenzana
Recipe type: pasta
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 

Serves: 2

  • 1 red or orange bell pepper, cut into long thin strips
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • pinch of crushed red pepper flakes or cayenne
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ cup dry sherry
  • ⅔ cup chopped scallions
  • 1 large ripe tomato, diced or 1 cup drained chopped canned tomatoes
  • ½ lb whole wheat spaghetti or linguini
  • ⅛ teaspoon crumbled saffron threads
  • ¼ cup boiling water
  • ⅔ cup frozen green pea
  • ½ lb shelled deveined shrimp
  • salt to taste
  • grated parmesan cheese (optional)

  1. In a large skillet, saute the bell pepper, garlic, and crushed red pepper in olive oil for 5 minutes over medium to medium-high heat.
  2. Add the sherry and then stir in the scallions and tomatoes.
  3. Mix the saffron into the ¼ cup boiling water and add to the sauce mixture.
  4. Increase to high heat and reduce the sauce for 1 minute. Adjust heat to low and allow sauce to simmer.
  5. Put on a large pot of water to boil for the linguini.
  6. When the water boils add the linguini to the pot and also add the peas and shrimp to the sauce.
  7. The sauce is finished when the shrimp are thoroughly cooked. Season with salt to taste.
  8. Ladle sauce over individual bowls of pasta and serve with Parmesan cheese (if desired).

{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Part Time House Wife June 11, 2012 at 9:29 am

Ha. Love that it was your first… I had a few pretty ambitious recipes as a starter myself. And since I didn’t know anything about cooking it was hard to realize how ambitious I was actually being! LOL.

This looks, and sounds awesome… per usual for you over here. Yummm.
Part Time House Wife recently posted..Fresh Mint & Lemon Quinoa Veggie SaladMy Profile


2 TastefullyJulie June 11, 2012 at 3:26 pm

Awww, you are too kind. Thank you!


3 Nancy/SpicieFoodie June 11, 2012 at 9:53 am

I can’t believe this was your first meal, my first was way more simple:) This sounds and looks amazing. I love and am fascinated by Saffron. A few years back one of my friends went to Egypt and I asked him to bring back some Saffron. But the poor guy didn’t know any better, he was told the bag was Saffron and in fact it was Safflower:) Regardless it makes a decent substitute. Thanks for sharing going to bookmark this!
Nancy/SpicieFoodie recently posted..Spicy Cheese Pupusas or El Salvadoran Corn CakesMy Profile


4 TastefullyJulie June 11, 2012 at 3:33 pm

Oh no! Well I hope it was less expensive ;)


5 Angie@Angie's Recipes June 11, 2012 at 12:06 pm

Salute to saffron! This looks so very flavourful and delicious.
Angie@Angie’s Recipes recently posted..Sourdough Olive BreadMy Profile


6 kitchenriffs June 11, 2012 at 1:24 pm

That’s a pretty ambitious first recipe! And I love fun facts about anything, so bring them on! Saffron has such great flavor, it’s one of my favs, too. And it looks spectacular in this dish – really nice. Thanks so much for sharing.


7 Netttie Moore June 11, 2012 at 2:13 pm

Hi Julie,

Love your ambitious dish, I absolutely love Saffron. I was so excited to find a vendor in Spain and stocked up! Wow, I am impressed by your dish, I think I was making Bisquick pancakes and was impressed with myself that I added strawberries to the batter! I have linked up my Moore Puccini Pasta dish, it is my favorite summer pasta salad! Happy Monday! Nettie
Netttie Moore recently posted..Grilled Plank SalmonMy Profile


8 TastefullyJulie June 11, 2012 at 3:34 pm

Thanks for linking up, Nettie!


9 Carole June 11, 2012 at 3:25 pm

Looks yummy. I was wondering if you would like to put up a link in Food on Friday Series. Have a great week.
Carole recently posted..Wild Thing – The TroggsMy Profile


10 TastefullyJulie June 11, 2012 at 3:36 pm

Thanks, Carole. I just did!


11 Val June 11, 2012 at 5:49 pm

Love the color that saffron gives food too — there’s something about those bright colors that makes the food that much more special. Love the way pasta is used instead of rice. Cool idea!
Val recently posted..Ally’s Kitchen: Quick Mushroom Curry RecipeMy Profile


12 Jenna@LittleKitchenBigFlavors June 11, 2012 at 7:56 pm

I love that this was your first meal. I’m pretty sure mine was boxed macaroni and cheese… 4 ingredients if you include the cheese packet :) This looks great, I love the colors with orange bell pepper and green peas!


13 TastefullyJulie June 11, 2012 at 8:56 pm

Well, the first real meal. I’m sure I opened plenty of boxes, too. Thanks for stopping by!


14 Brianne @ Cupcakes & Kale Chips June 11, 2012 at 8:08 pm

Oh yum! I want to try this and maybe serve it over rice or quinoa. Or maybe some of my gluten-free pasta.
Brianne @ Cupcakes & Kale Chips recently posted..Things that make you go MMMMMMonday! June 11, 2012My Profile


15 TastefullyJulie June 11, 2012 at 8:55 pm

It would be great over rice!


16 Cathy June 11, 2012 at 9:07 pm

Wow that looks so fabulous! I love thinking back to the earliest recipes I’ve made, mind you mine didn’t include saffron! Maybe turmeric or something else I couldn’t pronounce properly yet. lol!


17 Aylin @ Glow Kitchen June 12, 2012 at 3:49 pm

I live in Istanbul, so I always bring home bags of saffron when I visit my parents in the States. It’s so much cheaper here! I loveeeee it!
Aylin @ Glow Kitchen recently posted..Video: Vegan AlfredoMy Profile


18 TastefullyJulie June 12, 2012 at 8:40 pm

Color me jealous!


19 Keira @ Luscious Delights June 12, 2012 at 7:09 pm

I have to admit I’ve never cooked with saffron (yet). This dish looks delicious.

I recently posted a prawn curry dish here


20 TastefullyJulie June 12, 2012 at 8:40 pm

Thanks and thank you for stopping by!


21 The Tumbleweed Contessa June 13, 2012 at 12:28 pm

This sounds delicious. I love your Saffron facts. That is what makes a recipe interesting and a challenge in the kitchen. Half the fun is reviewing the ingredients and the stories to get them. This will be on my menu soon!


22 Aggie June 14, 2012 at 8:01 am

I discovered Moosewood cookbooks at the library a few years ago and absolutely love them! I did not know those facts about saffron so thank you! Very cool!

This dish looks delicious in so many ways.
Aggie recently posted..Zucchini, Fresh Corn and Quinoa Bowl with Feta and BasilMy Profile


23 Sonali- The Foodie Physician June 17, 2012 at 9:53 am

Your pasta sounds amazing and your photos are gorgeous! Thanks for hosting the blog hop!
Sonali- The Foodie Physician recently posted..Dining with the Doc: Honeydew LemonadeMy Profile


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