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The aperitivo game

Crisps, nuts, olives… Sleep with one, marry one, avoid one. What you going for?

We concluded, while on our current summer exchange trip to Italy, we’d marry nuts (cashew, pistachio, peanut = plenty of personality to explore), sleep with olives (can sometimes be a bit spicy), and avoid crisps (pick one outfit and stick with it: are you a lentil, quinoa, chickpea or plain potato?).

This week’s recipe for crab linguine has nothing to do with the above. However, it’s a good reminder that summer’s still here and still ready to party. Like spaghetti alle vongole? Like crab? You’ll love this…

This week’s album: 
No Time For Dreaming by Charles Bradley

Bradley made this album, his debut, aged 62 after a career as a James Brown impersonator under the name ‘Black Velvet’. I’m no expert in soul music but I know when I like something and, after hearing ‘The World (Is Going Up in Flames)’, this album got my attention. It’s a really enjoyable listen and his voice is particularly alluring.

Vongole’s half-sister

Thanks to the use of cooked crab (which you can easily find at your local fishmonger or in most supermarkets) this one is super quick to bring together. It’s also packed with flavour.

The base of the sauce is very similar to that of spaghetti alle vongole. You gently cook cherry tomatoes, along with garlic and white wine, until the tomatoes release their juices and sweeten. We then finish the dish in the same vongole-way: drizzle over good-quality olive oil, parsley and lemon juice.

For fish dishes I (almost always) prefer to use dried pasta (made from durum wheat and without eggs).

This is partly due to the fact that it’s what tradition dictates (and there’s a reason tradition becomes tradition… because it’s right) and partly because richer egg pasta is usually too overwhelming for delicate seafood. Having said that, this dish works really well with fresh egg pasta too, so the choice is yours.

Generally speaking, it’s easier to find high-quality dried pasta so I would recommend making it with that unless you can get your hands on particularly decent fresh egg pasta. Or you could make eggy stuff yourself. The quantities for the dough can be found here, and the instructions on how to prepare it for long pasta are here.

A quick note on crab… I particularly like the flavour of both white and brown crab meat so I use it in a 50:50 ratio for this dish. This also helps create a delicious and creamy sauce due to the texture and fat content of the brown meat.

I appreciate brown meat isn’t to everyone's liking so you can keep to the white stuff if you prefer.

Eat My Words’s Chief of Staff and Head of GDPR take a break from the company’s recent research trip around Liguria, Italy.
What you need

The below serves 2. It takes 10 mins to prep and 15 mins to cook.

4 tbsps extra-virgin olive oil
150g cherry tomatoes
1 garlic clove (very finely chopped/grated)
½ fresh red chilli (finely diced)
75ml white wine
200-220g linguine
(or spaghetti)
100g crab meat (white & brown)
15g parsley leaves (roughly chopped)
¼ lemon (juice only)
Sea salt & black pepper

Ready, steady, cook

1. Put a large pan of salted water onto a high heat, and a large frying pan onto a medium heat.

2. When the frying pan is hot, add 2 tbsps of olive oil and the halved cherry tomatoes. Season with a pinch of salt and allow to cook down gently for a few moments until the tomatoes start to break down.

3. After a few mins, and when soft and sweetened, add in the finely chopped/grated garlic, fresh chilli, and a generous amount of black pepper. Cook gently for another 2 mins, being careful to monitor the temp and not burn the garlic.

4. Now turn the heat up fully and, as soon as the tomato/garlic/chilli mixture starts to bubble, add the white wine. Cook on a high heat for 2 mins, or until the alcohol has cooked out. Turn the heat down to a very gentle simmer while we cook the pasta.

5. Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook according to the packet instructions for ‘al dente’. Set a timer. One min before the timer goes off, turn the heat up slightly on the sauce. Add the crab meat and stir through.

6. When ready, transfer the pasta (using tongs) from the water directly to the sauce.

NOTE: transferring pasta directly like this, instead of using a colander, means you automatically add some of the pasta-cooking water to the sauce which helps to emulsify everything and create a glossy sauce of the right consistency.

7. Add the remaining olive oil. Toss vigorously for a minute over a medium high heat to combine the sauce and pasta. As required, add extra pasta water (a little at a time) until a nice sauce-consistency is created.

8. Turn off the heat and add the parsley and lemon juice. Toss once more. Check the seasoning and, when happy, divide between warmed bowls.

Final thought

For added richness, in step seven you can add a couple of cubes of chilled butter instead of the remaining olive oil.

It’s not particularly traditional - coastal regions serving up crab pasta dishes are unlikely to be dairy producers too - but it works really well and will be delicious.

Same time next week.


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Eat My Words · Kew Gardens · Kew, TW9 · United Kingdom

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