In Spain, saffron is mainly used purely for gastronomic purposes. It is used in small quantities, approximately one pistil per portion, as a colourant and as seasoning for casseroles, marinades (for example, for lamb kebabs), paellas, rice dishes, escabeche, “fideouàs”, etc.
Spain is currently the second largest producer of saffron in the world and has a protected designation of origin, Azafrán de La Mancha, with production in La Mancha. Production also continues in Catalonia and Aragon, where saffron was already grown in the middle and modern ages. Catalonian saffron enjoyed great international prestige at that time and was the spice most consumed in the traditional cooking of the time.
Saffron is still used as a customary seasoning in spicy sauces and for adding flavour and aroma to both savoury and sweet dishes. It is typically used in rice-based dishes (such as “arròs a banda”–a fishy rice dish), pasta dishes (such as noodle casserole or “fideuà”) or potato-based dishes, or also in escabeches and in casseroles. It can be used to add colour to creams and other sweet recipes–usually with an egg or lemon flavour.