Sautéed Saffron-Scented Potatoes

Updated February 23, 2016
This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo

Saffron lends a golden glow to the onion that is spooned over the potatoes and is a popular way to make potatoes in the Basque Country. When made in a green sauce, as indicated in the variation below, these potatoes are quaintly known as “widowed” potatoes, because this is not a potato recipe that can become a meal, as so many do in Spanish cooking. These potatoes—in green sauce and with saffron—are meant to be a side course to accompany simple meat, fish, poultry, and game dishes.

4 servings

Cooking Methodsauteeing



Total Timeunder 1 hour

One Pot MealYes

OccasionCasual Dinner Party, Formal Dinner Party

Recipe Courseside dish

Dietary Considerationegg-free, lactose-free, peanut free, soy free, tree nut free



Taste and Textureherby, savory, spiced

Type of Dishvegetable


  • 5 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, preferably Vidalia or other sweet onion, slivered
  • 2 tablespoons chicken broth
  • Scant ¼ teaspoon crumbled thread saffron
  • 4 medium baking potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/8-inch slices
  • Kosher or sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley


Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large skillet. Add the onion and slowly sauté until softened, about 10 minutes. Stir in the broth and saffron, cook for a minute to evaporate some of the liquid, and remove to a dish.

Wipe out the skillet. Heat the remaining 3 tablespoons oil in the skillet and add the potato slices, one at a time so they don’t stick together. Sprinkle with salt. Give the potatoes a turn, cover, and cook over low heat until the potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes, lifting and turning occasionally. Spoon on the onions, sprinkle with parsley, and serve.


Omitting the onion, broth, and saffron, cook the potatoes in 3 tablespoons oil as indicated (the potatoes may be cubed instead of sliced). In a mortar mash to a paste 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley with 1/8 teaspoon kosher or sea salt and 2 minced garlic cloves. Stir in ¼ teaspoon paprika, 2 tablespoons chicken broth, and 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar and pour over the potatoes when they are done.



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