Saffron is ridiculously expensive (in the United States) but I was fortunately enough to receive a boatload of it from a friend, allowing me to be generous in my saffron usage. If you are not as lucky, try a combination of turmeric and smoked paprika. For me, this combination best embodies both the color and flavor of saffron.
My shortcut in this recipe is using instant couscous and allowing the saffron to steep with the couscous. Toss in some sauteed vegetables, and you have a wonderfully scented and colorful side dish.
Saffron Couscous w/ Vegetables
1 cup instant couscous
1 tsp saffron
1/2 red onion, roughly diced
2 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise then cut about 1/4 inch thick
1 sweet bell pepper, cut into thin strips, then halved
salt and pepper, to taste
Bring 1 cup of water to a boil. Remove from heat. Add couscous and saffron. Stir and set aside for 5 minutes, then fluff with a fork.
Meanwhile, heat oil in a large skillet. Add red onion to skillet and saute 3 minutes. Add zucchini and pepper to skillet, seasoning with salt and pepper. Saute until near tender, about 5 more minutes.
Toss couscous and vegetables together. Add a small amount of oil if mixture is too sticky. Top with freshly chopped parsley, if desired.