Sophia Loren-inspired saffron spaghetti | House and Leisure
food, Recipes

Sophia Loren-inspired saffron spaghetti

Concept and styling Raphaella Frame-Tolmie; Photographs Russell Smith

Chef Liam Tomlin Concept and styling Raphaella Frame-Tolmie Photographs Russell Smith


  • 2 cups fish stock
  • 175ml dry vermouth
  • 2 cups white wine
  • 1ℓ cream
  • 25g unsalted butter, diced
  • 2 shallots, finely chopped
  • small onion, finely chopped
  • fennel bulb, finely sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 thyme sprigs
  • salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • lemon juice
  • 1 cup water
  • 5g saffron threads
  • 5g saffron powder
  • 500g ‘00’ (doppio zero) flour, sifted twice
  • 300ml egg yolks
  • 20ml olive oil
  • 8x 150g marron tails, removed from the shell
  • 40ml champagne

Reduce the fish stock to 300ml in a heavy-based saucepan. Combine the vermouth and white wine in a separate saucepan and reduce to 400ml. Reduce the cream to 750ml in another saucepan. In a heavy-based saucepan, melt the butter until foaming. Add the shallots, onion, fennel, garlic and thyme, and sweat for three minutes without browning. Add the reduced alcohol mixture and fish stock and bring to the boil. Add the cream and bring back to the boil. Reduce the heat and cook for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and pass the sauce through a fine sieve. Season to taste with salt, freshly ground black pepper and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.

Place the water, saffron threads and powder in a heavy-based saucepan, and reduce to 50ml over a gentle heat. Remove from the heat and allow to cool, then pass the liquid through a fine sieve into a clean bowl, pressing down on the saffron with the back of a spoon to extract as much flavour and colour as possible.

Place the flour in the bowl of a food processor with a good pinch of salt. Whisk the egg yolks until liquefied. With the motor running, add the saffron liquid, egg yolks and olive oil in a steady stream and continue to run the motor until the mixture forms a dough that comes away from the sides of the bowl. Turn the dough onto a clean work surface and knead for five minutes until smooth. Wrap the dough in clingfilm and refrigerate for one hour. Roll the dough out using a pasta machine and cut into spaghetti. Blanch the pasta in boiling water, and refresh.

In a heavy-based saucepan large enough to hold the marron tails, gently warm the cream sauce. Add the marron tails and poach them for four to five minutes. Remove the tails from the sauce and lightly season them with salt and black pepper. Pass the sauce through a fine sieve into a clean saucepan and add the champagne. Bring it to the boil and reduce for one minute. Set the velouté aside and keep it warm. Reheat the pasta in salted boiling water for 30 seconds, drain and lightly season with salt and black pepper.

Place the spaghetti in a large bowl and gently toss the marron tails through it. Add a little velouté and toss through. Divide the spaghetti between four warm soup plates. Froth the champagne sauce with a hand-held blender and spoon it over the marron and spaghetti. Serves 4

Chef’s Warehouse & Cookery School, 50 New Church St, Cape Town, 021-422-0128,

This article originally featured in the August 2013 Issue of House and Leisure.