For The Press

Most people associate pasta with Italian cuisine. This main dish, though, has a decidedly Spanish flair, featuring a flavorful, easy-to-prepare sauce with saffron, olives and capers.

The spice saffron is popular in many Spanish dishes such as paella, a classic, slow-cooked dish made of rice. It infuses an earthy, hay-like flavor and beautiful yellow-orange color. Saffron is the dried tiny threadlike strands of the fall flowering crocus, also known as the saffron crocus – a member of the iris family. Although it's the world's most expensive spice by weight, very little is needed to flavor and color food. The thin saffron threads are the most recognized version of this spice, but it's also available in powdered form. You should be careful if buying the powdered variety because of the possibility that it has been combined with turmeric or other less expensive substances. The powdered spice also loses its flavor more quickly than the threads. You can recognize good quality threads because they are bright red but have a dark shade with tips that have a slightly lighter shade, indicating that they are natural and have not been dyed to look darker. Some threads include a small amount of yellow, which usually means that they are not as strong.

Saffron is very sensitive to heat and light, so it should be stored in a cool, dark and dry location. High humidity can cause it to smell musty and make it age faster. If stored properly, it can last for several years. Before cooking, place saffron in small bowl and add 1 to 2 tablespoons hot water. Let it sit until dissolved, about 20 minutes, before using.

Spanish cuisine is also ripe with olives. Note that if seasoning with salt, go a little lighter because olives contribute to the saltiness of the sauce.

as do the capers. The capers, which are the un-ripened, pickled flower buds of a prickly perennial plant native to the Mediterranean and some parts of Asia, round out the Latin flavor with their tangy, lemony essence.

Add your favorite green salad and you have a complete, nutritious meal featuring an old favorite – spaghetti - in a new Spanish style.