Spanish Shrimp with Artichokes on Toasted Farro with a Little Saffron Love

A versatile dish you can serve many ways, even vegan! Just don’t forget the saffron.

Spanish flavors. The gorgeous smoked paprika, all the tasty peppers, tomatoes, olives, saffron of course. Saffron has a special place in my heart.

An expensive spice

My brother Floyd was a talented cook, and he adored saffron as much as I do. During our leaner youthful years, saffron at $10 a pop for a tiny tin was a splurge indeed, making a bit dent in the grocery budget, but was a great gift, so we treated each other.

Who’s the boss?

On his birthday in January, I would give him a little tin of saffron for his present, and he would thank me but let me know we were “the same age” so I couldn’t boss him around any more. On my birthday, a month and a half later, he would give me saffron, and of course I let him know I was once again older than him so I could boss him around. We always laughed. Silly, but it was our thing, and continued for decades, even when we could well afford the saffron splurge on our own.

Make it last

Sadly, I lost him at way too young an age a few years ago. I have the last tin he gave me before he passed away, and I hoard this gold like a miser. If I am frugal with it, I will make it last a good long time, so he’s always contributing to my our family celebrations, especially when one of his daughters is here for the meal.

Everyone can be pleased

This dish has many of the ingredients he loved, especially the shrimp. I’ve chosen toasted farro here because of the lovely, nutty flavor and chewy texture, and I highly recommend it. We use it all the time, but you can use any grain of your choice, or even pasta as well! This is all about what you like. Don’t care for shrimp? Scallops, or any firm fish cut into cubes would work as well, or no seafood at all.

Of course you can make it vegetarian!

You can easily make this vegetarian as well by adding extra artichokes, perhaps a meaty mushroom in place of the shrimp, substitute vegetable stock, and omit the anchovies. It’s delightful! Use whatever peppers you love, are the poblanos in season? Do you have a glut of sweet banana peppers?

This is a great dish to make for a dinner party. Everything can be prepped ahead of time, and finished off in the time it takes to cook the farro and nibble on a few appetizers.

Just don’t forget the saffron. It’s the secret and absolute best ingredient, especially if it was a gift.

Spanish Shrimp and Artichokes over Toasted Farro

  • 1 lb. medium wild shrimp, save shells for stock
  • 1 cup farro, well rinsed
  • 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 can or jar artichoke hearts, halved
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1 cup, packed, sliced sweet mini bell peppers
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp. tomato paste
  • 4 anchovy filets and a bit of the oil
  • 6 or 8 pimento stuffed green Spanish olives
  • Large pinch of saffron, with a few threads from a special tin
  • 1 tbsp. smoked Spanish paprika
  • 1 tbsp. fresh oregano, or 1 tsp. dried
  • White wine to deglaze
  • 1 cup shrimp stock, from shells
  • 1 lemon

Peel and devein the shrimp and place the shells in a saucepan. Cover the shells with a few cups of water, pinch of salt and pepper, a bay leaf, and a shake of sweet paprika. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer for 20 minutes, then set aside for another 10 minutes and strain. 

While shells are simmering, pat the shrimp dry, lightly salt and sprinkle with a little of the smoked paprika and salt, and place in the refrigerator for 15 to 30 minutes.

Lightly toast the farro in a dry skillet. Bring a large pot of water to boil, salt it, and add the farro. Reduce the heat to keep it at a low boil. Stir now and then like you would pasta. The farro will take a half hour or more to cook, more than enough time to prep everything else. Start tasting at 30 minutes and cook until it is the texture you want.

In a large sauté pan over medium high, heat olive oil and add the shrimp. Sauté until just starting to pink. Remove from the pan and set aside covered. Place the artichoke hearts cut-side down in the pan to let them get a little color. Remove to the shrimp plate. Cover.

Add a drizzle more oil and the onion and peppers to the same pan, and lightly season. Cook until the vegetables are tender, then stir in the garlic, tomato paste, anchovies, anchovy oil, olives, saffron, and paprika. Cook a minute or so, then deglaze the pan with the wine, and stir until the wine has just about evaporated. Add 1 cup of the shrimp stock, the oregano, and let simmer for a couple of minutes, then add the shrimp and artichokes back in the pot to reheat and finish cooking.

Drain the farro and place in a serving bowl. Top with the shrimp mixture, garnish with a bit more fresh oregano, a little drizzle more of olive oil, and a nice squeeze of fresh lemon.

You can also use a favorite pasta, rice, or other grain.

For a dinner party:

Make the topping, add the shrimp, and immediately remove from heat to a storage bowl. Chill and save until you are ready to drop your farro, then gently reheat the topping so the shrimp can finish cooking but not get overdone.

For an even quicker prep, use a fresh pasta that takes only a few minutes to cook. It can cook while everything else heats and you are ready in no time at all. That’s what I did the last time I served this to company, about 10 minutes total time in the kitchen away from my guests!

Love you Floyd!

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  1. Sheree says:

    Looks delicious

    1. Thank you so much Sheree! I’ve made this quite a few times and it is really flavorful.

      1. Sheree says:

        I bet Dorothy

  2. I can’t imagine how awful it must be to lose a brother like Floyd. I like to think that he is cooking away with saffron ‘somewhere’ in the Universe and keeping a loving eye over you.

    1. Thank you! He is with me every day, especially when I’m in the kitchen.

  3. I have never used saffron mainly because of the price but this recipe certainly might make me change my mind.

    1. A little goes a long way!

  4. Michael says:

    Awww, it seems the preparation of this need time. 😉 But it sounds and looks like wonderful. Thanks for sharing, Dorothy! Have a beautiful week! xx Michael

    1. It’s not a quick dish, but it’s an easy one.
      Have a wonderful week Michael!

  5. Jovina Coughlin says:

    Fantastic combination. Love it.

    1. Thank you Jovina! The flavors play beautifully together.

  6. What a great combination of flavors! Saffron is a wonderful spice but yours is priceless 💝

    1. It is my precious gold!

  7. There’s something special about saffron! Yum 💕C

    1. It definitely has a little magic in it!

  8. capost2k says:

    Maybe the Lord will have you and Floyd prepare some of the dishes for the Marriage Supper of the Lamb! ❤️&🙏, c.a.

  9. terrie gura says:

    Beautiful, Dorothy. My taste buds will be fantasizing about this dish until I get around to making it, but the bigger treasure here is the sweet story about your brother. As someone else commented, I have a hunch Floyd is still with you in the kitchen, and especially guiding you in your use of the saffron. Precious! 💕

    1. Thank you Terrie! I have him always in my heart, and for sure when I’m cooking one of his recipes or using that saffron! Miss him like crazy.

  10. That looks delicious! I have to go get some saffron!

    1. Thanks Marilyn!

  11. This is such a wonderful way to remember your brother!

    The dish looks amazing. Love all the ingredients and flavors. I haven’t used farro in a while, so thanks for the reminder! 🙂

    1. Thank you Ronit! He’s always here.
      I love the texture of farro, and try to remember to pick it up at the co-op.

  12. Chef Mimi says:

    Ugh. I really hate when people die prematurely. So sorry for losing your brother. I love your tradition you had with him. This dish looks fabulous.

    1. Thank you Mimi! I’m sure Floyd would have loved this one!

  13. NativeNM says:

    The best memories are from shared experiences in the kitchen. What a lovely story to honor your brother. Thanks for sharing this story and the recipe that goes with it. It sounds tasty!

    1. Thank you Jan! We had lots of great times cooking!

  14. Ally Bean says:

    I’ve never cooked with saffron. I know it and like the flavor in Spanish dishes, but I’m too cheap to buy any. I’m sorry about your brother. Too soon, indeed.

    1. Thank you Ally. Maybe you can find someone to “gift” some saffron to?

  15. Looks delicious and nice red and green color. The best part is the great memories of your brother. Those are even more special than the dish.

    1. Thank you Judy! The memories make it all taste just a little better!

  16. Suzassippi says:

    Clearly you touched our hearts on this one, Dorothy. It is a beautiful story about family, and food, and love. I just read an article today about the issues related to loss of saffron farming, so this is much more potent to me at this time. Thank you for sharing the memory and the recipe.

    1. Thank you my friend! We often don’t realize how important these little things are until they are gone.
      I will have to read up about the saffron farming, thanks for the tip. I know there are a couple of experimental saffron farms here in Vermont, but not sure how that is going to work out!

  17. Sherry M says:

    i love saffron and Spanish flavours. so sad about your brother. mine died unexpectedly in january. such a shock …

    1. Thank you for stopping by Sherry. I’m really sorry about your brother too! I’m sure you will keep him in your heart as the shock wears away. 💕❤️

  18. Gail says:

    Mmmm. Smoky paprika and shrimp. You definitely got my attention on this dish. 🌿🍤

    1. Thanks Gail! I love smoked paprika as well, and I use it in lots of things that have absolutely nothing to do with Spain!

  19. What a beautiful meal and such sweet memories of your brother…

    1. Thank you Jenna! All good memories.

  20. I will definitely make this dish. It has all my favorite flavors. Thanks for sharing your lovely story about your brother

    1. Thank you Bernadette. I hope you like the dish as much as we do. Floyd would have loved this one.

  21. CarolCooks2 says:

    I have not tried Farro…I have googled it and think I would like it…it sounds lovely with shrimp and saffron 🙂

    1. Thanks Carol. I love farro, it’s got a lovely texture and is quite unique. It makes a great risotto too.

  22. Christy B says:

    You had me at shrimp! I’ve never cooked with saffron before

    1. A little goes a long way!

  23. angelamara says:

    This is a lovely dish, Dorothy, and a beautiful post about your brother.. thanks for sharing with us <3

    1. Thank you so much Angela! We really enjoy this one.

  24. Americaoncoffee says:

    I live the combinations.❤️😇

    1. Thank you so much! They go together well!

      1. Americaoncoffee says:

        And you are so skilled! ❤️

      2. Americaoncoffee says:

        You are most welcome! Enjoy your weekend. 🍮🍮💞

      3. You too! We are at the seaside, so happy we are!

      4. Americaoncoffee says:

        I meant that I love your combinations… lol… I didn’t mean to use the word live.

      5. Americaoncoffee says:

        Happy Monday!💥❤️💥🎼

      6. Thank you! Have a lovely week.

      7. Americaoncoffee says:

        How nice to be at a seaside. Wow!

      8. Americaoncoffee says:


  25. Nancy says:

    Such a colorful meal! And what a lovely tribute to your Brother…!

    1. Thank you Nancy! He was a good one!

    2. Thank you Nancy! He loved all the components so I’m sure he would have loved this.

  26. Sowmya says:

    Looks like this dish has a burst of flavours. Interesting recipe Dorothy

    1. Thank you Sowmya! It is indeed quite flavorful!

  27. Carolyn Page says:

    So much to say ’bout this one, Dorothy.
    Firstly, Floyd looks like he was a gorgeous man. He would have been great company, I’m sure!
    Then there’s the anecdote. My man and I are almost two years apart – I’m the oldest. For almost six months I’m two years older. Then comes my birthday and I’m one year older… 🙂 We have a running joke with dialogue about this every year. Such fun!!!
    As for this recipe – YUM. It’s gone straight into my ‘Dorothy’s Recipe’ file. I can’t wait to try it this weekend. Keith loves shrimp/prawns.
    Love new taste sensations! I have no idea what farro is. I’ll investigate the supermarket and health foods stores. Good to know I can substitute – maybe rice.
    Lastly; what a fabulous connection you had with Floyd. Connections like that keep the heart smiling – forever!

    1. Thank you so much dear Carolyn! My connection with Floyd was a special one, born just 10 months apart we were babes together and my mother called us her Irish twins. It was a common expression for two babies born within a year of each other, and I don’t think there was ever meant anything derogatory about the expression, although it would not be pc today I’m sure. My mom was from a French Canadian family and I’m sure there were as many similar twins!

      1. Carolyn Page says:

        What a delightful happening – two babes enjoying life as Irish twins. I know it must have made for a heartfelt connection. One, as we know, does not end….

        I had to make this recipe, Dorothy! I felt the need to partake of your incredible food, and to somehow be a part of your connection with Floyd… and saffron.

        I was halfway through eating when I knew I had to take a pic. The presentation leaves a lot to be desired. But, the flavours were so layered we, both K and I, were almost lost for words. So delicate, yet so rich!

      2. I’m so delighted you experienced this dish with such a deep connection to me and my brother!
        He is indeed still very much with us, and he would be the first to pass the saffron while you were cooking!
        Your dish looks wonderful!

      3. Beautiful! I’m so pleased you liked it and it looks wonderful! 👏🏻💕

  28. nancyc says:

    So glad you have special memories of your brother—it sounds like you both shared a special love for cooking! It’s every day memories like those that really mean a lot! This dish looks delicious—I’ve never made anything with saffron, so I will need to try using it sometime!

    1. Thank you Nancy. My brother loved to feed people and entertain as much as I do, and it did it with flair! His dishes remain family favorites, and we think of him always, especially when cooking.❤️

  29. Yum yum

  30. I bet this is delicious!!! I have never cooked with saffron so I bought some probably 4 years ago and I still haven’t used it. Lol

    1. It will still be safe to eat, but may have lost some flavor at this point. So, go ahead and experiment with it!

  31. sunisanthosh says:

    Vivid image and a delicious dish. 💕

    1. Thanks! It was so good. Everyone loved it.

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