Colors of the world, spice up your life! Every boy and every girl, spice up your life!Gather Journal Saffron Fideuà
That something is rare can be the greatest expression of luxury. To produce just one gram of saffron, the carmine-colored stigma of the crocus flower, requires 150 plants, each of which bloom for just one week a year and must be harvested by hand. Despite the hefty price tag for authentic saffron, it has still been used in excess—Alexander the Great slathered it on battle wounds to help them heal, and Cleopatra bathed in infused water to increase her sexual pleasure. But a little saffron goes a long way—less than a teaspoon is all you need to give a skillet of fideuà its vibrant flavor.
Preheat oven to 375°F. Rinse shrimp shells and add to a saucepan with 3 ½ cups water, onion wedges, and smashed garlic cloves. Boil 20-25 minutes, strain broth and return to pot. Add saffron and return to low heat to keep warm.
Meanwhile, toss noodles with 2 Tbsp oil on a parchment-lined, rimmed baking sheet. Toast noodles in oven, stirring once or twice, until deep golden brown, 8-10 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.
Toss shrimp with 1 Tbsp oil and pinch of salt and set aside.
Heat remaining 2 Tbsp oil over medium-high heat in a deep, wide skillet. Stir in sliced garlic, paprika, and chopped onion. Cook, stirring often, until paprika is toasted and onions are softened, about 6 minutes. Add crushed tomatoes and sherry and cook until almost all the liquid is reduced, about 10 minutes. Add noodles, a ¼ tsp salt, and a few grinds of black pepper. Stir in mussels to combine. Ladle about 1¾ cups of simmering broth over noodles and simmer, stirring frequently and adding a little more broth if needed, until noodles are al dente, 2-3 minutes. Nestle in shrimp and transfer to the oven. Bake until shrimp are opaque, mussels have opened completely, and noodles are starting to crisp and curl, 10-15 minutes.
Serve with lemon, parsley, and flaky salt.