Spicy Saffron Shrimp with Green Olives and Lemon

updated Mar 1, 2021
Mediterranean Monday
Spicy Saffron Shrimp with Green Olives and Lemon

This saucy shrimp, inspired by Moroccan tagine, is richly spiced with saffron, ginger, cumin, and smoked paprika. Serve it over couscous or rice, or even just alongside crusty bread.

Serves6

Prep10 minutes

Cook20 minutes

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saffron shrimp with green olives in a pan
Credit: Photo: Kristin Teig; Food Styling: Catrine Kelty

It always feels like magic when a single ingredient turns an everyday dinner into one that feels special enough to break out the linen napkins. Here, that ingredient is saffron, which transforms a 30-minute shrimp skillet into a seriously luxurious meal.

This recipe, inspired by Moroccan tagine, is impossibly fragrant and flavorful. Tender shrimp is marinated in a spicy, earthy mix of smoked paprika, cumin, ginger, and red pepper flakes, then simmered in a skillet of saffron-scented tomatoes, melted onions, and briny green olives. Both lemon zest and juice lend brightness, and parsley adds its signature pop of green. I love it served over couscous or rice, or piled into bowls with good bread on the side for swiping up ever last bit of saucy goodness.

Credit: Photo: Kristin Teig; Food Styling: Catrine Kelty

Flavoring Shrimp with Big, Bold Flavors

Whether it’s served over salad, tossed with veggies, or used to bolster pasta, quick-cooking shrimp is the key to endless easy wholesome dinners. But I’m even more of a fan of shrimp because of how easily it latches onto flavor. Basic aromatics such as garlic and herbs are always a win, but this recipe proves you can go bigger and bolder. The combination of spices used here — spicy, smoky, and pungent — keeps you on your toes, while the just-barely-there earthy, sweet notes of saffron tie everything together harmoniously.

Spicy Saffron Shrimp with Green Olives and Lemon

This saucy shrimp, inspired by Moroccan tagine, is richly spiced with saffron, ginger, cumin, and smoked paprika. Serve it over couscous or rice, or even just alongside crusty bread.

Prep time 10 minutes

Cook time 20 minutes

Serves 6

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 1

    medium lemon

  • 2 tablespoons

    olive oil

  • 1 teaspoon

    kosher salt, plus more as needed

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    red pepper flakes

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    ground cumin

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    smoked paprika

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    ground ginger

  • 1 1/2 pounds

    medium peeled and deveined raw shrimp

  • 1

    large yellow onion

  • 3 cloves

    garlic

  • 2/3 cup

    Castelvetrano olives or another mild green olive, such as Cerignola

  • 1/4 cup

    fresh parsley leaves

  • 1 (28-ounce) can

    or 2 (14.5-ounce) cans diced tomatoes

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    saffron threads

  • Freshly ground black pepper

  • Bread, cooked couscous, or rice, for serving

Instructions

  1. Finely grate the zest of 1 medium lemon into a medium bowl. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin, 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika, and 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger. Stir to combine. Add 1 1/2 pounds medium raw shrimp and toss to combine. Let the shrimp marinate at room temperature while you prep and cook the sauce.

  2. Cut the zested lemon in half. Thinly slice 1 large yellow onion. Mince 3 garlic cloves. Pit and halve 2/3 cup Castelvetrano olives. Coarsely chop 1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves.

  3. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent and very soft, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add 1 (28-ounce) can or 2 (14.5-ounce) cans diced tomatoes and their juices. Crush 1/4 teaspoon saffron threads with your fingers, if using, into the pan. Stir to combine and simmer for 5 minutes.

  4. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Add the shrimp, shrimp marinade, and olives. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the shrimp are just cooked through, 3 to 5 minutes. Taste and season with black pepper and kosher salt as needed.

  5. Remove from the heat, squeeze the juice from the lemon halves into the pan, and stir to combine. Garnish with the parsley and serve immediately with bread or over cooked couscous or rice, if desired.

Recipe Notes

Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container up to 2 days.

Welcome to Mediterranean MondaySheela Prakash‘s monthly column of Mediterranean recipes. Here, Sheela will teach you all about the Mediterranean diet’s feel-good way of cooking and eating, and share vibrant, easygoing recipes. Cook with us using #mediterraneanmonday, and for even more great recipes, order a copy of Sheela’s cookbook Mediterranean Every Day.

Credit: Kitchn