My wonderful friend Silvia would be the first to admit cooking is not her strong suit. She is, simply, not that interested. But she does like to eat and her delight in front of a plate of food is infectious. Silvia has nonetheless mastered a handful of recipes to see her through the times when cooking is a necessity, and the one she is probably the proudest of is pasta with crab.
When Silvia visited me last year, I introduced her to fresh crab legs. In Italy crabs are little thingies, not the Pacific size ones with long legs that yield an abundance of meat. She had never made her masterpiece with anything else but canned crab meat and I told her it would be a bit of a revelation to eat fresh crab. The only inconvenience is cleaning the spiky limbs.
The easiest way is to tackle the legs at the joints, holding them with tea towels. Once you snap the joint, if you are lucky, the membrane will pop out and you will be able to slide the meat right off of it. But don’t be afraid to just snip at them with poultry scissors and mangle them in order to get every precious bit of it out. If I am buying extra long legs, I usually average one leg per person.
Silvia makes her pasta with tomato sauce, then adds the crab, a touch of cream and a sprinkle of parsley. Last night, though, eager to use the very last of decent grape tomatoes, I tried a different variation, that calls for sautéing the tomatoes until they break and release their juices. The flavors were simple and delicious and I pulled the dinner together in no time (I cleaned the legs while the water was boiling and the tomatoes were cooking).
RECIPE – Serves 4
Crab meat from 4 legs
1 pint Grape Tomatoes
2 T Olive oil
1 T Butter
2 T Fresh Oregano, chopped
1 Garlic Clove, peeled and smashed
1/2 # Pasta
- Heat oil in a saute pan and add garlic. Cook for a couple of minutes and then add the tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper. Cook on med/high until the tomatoes start to release their juices. Add the butter and cook a few minutes more. Add crab meat, oregano. Taste and adjust seasoning.
- In the meantime, cook pasta in salted water. Drain, reserving half a cup of the cooking liquid.
- Add the pasta and the water to the tomato/crab sauce and re-heat while mixing thoroughly. Serve immediately.