There are so many things to love about this recipe. First, as the title gives away, it is quick to make. This is simple, and comes together almost like a stir fry does…you just keep adding ingredients to a pan, while stirring, and in moments, you’re rewarded with a glamorous feast. Secondly, this tastes amazing! The saffron and tarragon marry so well together, and always make seafood dishes of any kind shine. Some garlic notes and white wine make the tomatoes sing, and it all comes together to make a very memorable meal. This is uncomplicated, but with sophisticated flavours.
I have doctored this recipe in many ways, and each version continues to delight. I was first drawn to make this recipe because the simplicity of the ingredients seemed too good to be true – I mean, canned tomatoes and frozen seafood, with some aromatics, and we’re done? The first time I made it, I didn’t have any garlic oil, nor did I have those packages of mixed frozen seafood. So, I improvised and used crushed garlic cloves and regular olive oil, and used a combination of frozen shrimp (which I always have in my freezer) and some fresh salmon. I’ve also used dried parsley instead of fresh herbs, and it works!
Now my local bakery sells packages of mixed frozen seafood, so I’m never without at least two packages in my freezer for a quick meal. Surprisingly, these seafood packages are very inexpensive…so this whole meal goes on the table for under $ 10. Another wow!
This recipe comes from one of my most frequently used cookbooks, Nigella Kitchen, by Nigella Lawson. This nearly 500 page volume is loaded with recipes that get made over and over again. These recipes are either incredibly simple, or they taste fantastically good.
All this needs is your favourite starch served on the side – fresh crusty bread, or roasted fingering potatoes perhaps? A good bottle of white wine is a welcome addition too.
This is Nigella Lawson's recipe from her tremendously useful Nigella Kitchen cookbook.
She adds that she will use chopped fresh tomatoes if she has some sitting on the counter, instead of canned ones. Indeed, this recipe is just a blueprint for endless substitutions. Feel free to use frozen shrimp and fresh fish instead of the mixed seafood. I substituted dried herbs for the fresh ones to great effect.
While this recipe states that it serves 2 to 4, I rather feel like it's a hearty dinner for two.
- pinch saffron threads
- 1 cup freshly boiled water
- 4 tsp garlic oil
- 6 spring onions, finely sliced
- 1/2 tsp dried tarragon
- 1/2 cup dry vermouth or dry white wine
- 1 14 oz can chopped tomatoes
- 1 tsp sea salt flakes
- 1 lb frozen mixed seafood (14 oz package is fine to use here)
- pepper, to taste
- fresh herbs, to serve (optional)
- Put the saffron threads in a cup or bowl and add the cup of freshly boiled water.
- Warm the garlic oil in a wide, shallow, heavy based pan over medium heat and fry the onions and tarragon for a minute or so.
- Add the vermouth or wine and let bubble for a minute, then add the saffron in its yellow water, followed by the tomatoes, and let it all come back to the boil. Add half the amount of salt specified above.
- Turn up the heat to high, add the frozen seafood and bring the pan back to the boil, then turn down the heat to medium and cook at a robust simmer till the seafood is hot and cooked through, which should be 3 or 4 minutes (or according to packet instructions).
- Season with pepper to taste, and add the rest of the salt if required, sprinkle with any available herbs, if you feel like it, and serve, for pleasurable mopping, with some crusty bread.