Sunday night pasta has been a bit of a tradition in our family over the years. In the summer when the vegetable patch is in full swing I often make a sauce from whatever I’ve picked that day. Fresh tomato and basil, courgette rocket and lemon, baby broad beans and peas it’s very easy. In winter a good ragout (made from leftover Sunday lunch) is always very welcome.
One of the most important things to remember when cooking pasta is to keep it simple. The fewer ingredients you use the better. Another important tip is to always check the cooking time of your pasta. Flabby over cooked pasta is revolting. A great Italian friend of mine whom I consider a real pasta maestro always uses a timer when cooking pasta to ensure it is cooked perfectly aldente. The pasta wants to be just soft but still retain a slight bite to it.
Whether you are making spaghetti with a simple tomato and basil sauce (tomato, basil olive oil and possibly and hint of chilli and garlic) or splashing out with lobster or truffles always remember to stick to the key ingredients and don’t get carried away by adding unnecessary flavours which will distract from the principal elements of the dish.
This crab pasta is one of my family favourites. I think crab has a sweeter and more delicate flavour to lobster. I use only the white crabmeat which I know is more expensive but I think the taste is well worth it, but if you are on a budget, use white and brown meat combined. (Dressed crab can be bought quite cheaply from good fishmongers and supermarkets).
When using chillies always check the heat of the chilli by tasting a tiny amount on your tongue first, (every so often you can get a mouth blazingly hot one!) There should only be a hint of chilli as you don’t want to loose the delicate taste of the crab.
Crab linguine with lemon and chilli
Difficulty: easy Serves: 4
350g fresh white crab meat (can be found ready picked in good fishmongers)
2 small cloves garlic crushed
1 red finger chilli deseeded and finely chopped
zest and juice of a lemon
1 small bunch parsley, discard the stems and chop the leaves
360g dried linguine
2tbsp good quality olive oil
Place the crabmeat in a bowl with the lemon zest, parsley, chilli, garlic and olive oil and mix together. Season, with a little salt and pepper.
Place a large pan of water on to boil. Add a generous pinch of salt. As soon as the water has come to the boil add the pasta and cook till al dente (usually 10-11 minutes but check the packet instructions). When cooked, drain the pasta reserving a little of the pasta water. Return the pasta to the pan. Add the crab mixture and lemon juice and mix well. If the pasta is a little dry, loosen with a tablespoonful or two of the pasta water (careful not to add too much otherwise the pasta will become watery).
Divide the pasta between 4 bowls and serve immediately with a good bottle of Brunello. (If you’re flush!)