In search of the precious red gold
While we were enjoying breathing the fresh air of the Umbrian valleys, we felt the wind coming from the South. A breath full of spicy aromas is coming from the Apennines. The flavor of saffron flowers took us to the “Piana of Navelli”, near L'Aquila.
This jewel of the earth arrived here after a long journey started from the Middle East. Today, this gold ingredient from Abruzzo is the main protagonist in many recipes among all the regional culinary traditions of our country.
We have chosen for you a dish which combines the colours and fragrances you can admire in Spring in this beautiful land.
A vivid and indipendent culinary art
The typical cuisine from Abruzzo has a dual personality linked to a pastoral tradition of the mountain areas and to a maritime tradition of the coastal area. The cultural heritage of this land offers many prominent products become famous all over the world. Saffron is absolutely the prince of the table.
But we also have a first course full of history, like spaghetti alla chitarra and a famous second course like lamb skewers, accompanied by another exclusive product, our Avezzano potato.
Our P.D.O. jewel with a superior aromatic power
The red gold from Navelli is one of the most expensive spices in the world, whose value is equal only to the effort made in its harvest. Saffron was born in Crete and its arrival in Abruzzo, after its distribution throughout the East, has an origin both casual and miraculous.
In the XIV century the Santucci monk from Abruzzo brought with him some bulbs of this precious plant on his way home to Navelli, after having taken part in the court of the Inquisition in Toledo - Spain.
These flowers found their perfect habitat for both the climate and the soil on the uplands nearby L’Aquila.
The gold of Navelli, characterized by a very delicate flavor and aroma, obtained its consecration in 2005 when it was recognized as "Saffron of L'Aquila" of a superior category with a Protected Designation of Origin.
From flower to flower
Nothing can better characterize a Spring recipe than the use of an edible flower.
This is why we decided to combine courgette flowers with our saffron, excellent for both taste and sight. We give a delicate touch to our preparation using them.
Courgette flowers grow both on pumpkins and on courgettes, they are recognizable for their yellow/orange colour and for their long petals with large pistils inside.
Just a tip: if you want to choose the best, select those with bright colours and with solid semi-open petals.
15 courgette flowers
half an onion
1 sachet saffron
2 cups of broth
40 g butter
60 g grated pecorino cheese
chopped parsley to taste
salt to taste
pepper to taste
Let’s start by cleaning your courgette flowers - remove the pistil, remove the stem, the outer leaves and the flower peduncle. Wash them well and dry. Put them in a pan with butter, extra virgin olive oil EVO, half chopped onion and half the parsley you have previously chopped.
Pour the broth into the pan and cook the sauce for about 20 minutes. Then put all the ingredients in a mixer adding saffron, salt and pepper. After that, leave it cook a little longer.
We recommend using saffron in pistils to follow the tradition, but if you can’t find it you can use 1 sachet saffron.
Boil the salted water and cook your Spaghetti, they will be drained “al dente”. In the meanwhile, add two eggs and the grated pecorino cheese to the sauce.
Pour your Spaghetti into the pan and stir the sauce in well.
You can finish your preparation with the rest of the chopped parsley and by adding some strips of stir fry courgette flowers to garnish your dish, should you prefer it.
The dish should be served hot to fully enjoy the flavor of its dressing.
Chef Pasquale Torrente's recipe
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