Things that crawl make great pasta!
I suppose you could make pasta with anything. I find that some of my favorite sauces are made with things that crawl and are usually found in the sea – like shrimp, clams, lobster, and crabs! SPAGHETTI WITH CRAB AND MASCARPONE SAUCE is definitely a dish that I especially love. It’s good anytime of year. For some reason, it just seems to taste better in the summer when my thoughts turn to things “beachy”, and of course, the patio would be my top choice of serving destinations. For me, this beautiful dish screams: OUTDOORS! Throw in a little “Come Back to Sorrento”, and I’m there!
About Mascarpone: For those unfamiliar, Mascarpone Cheese is the Italian version of cream cheese – a little sweeter – a little softer – a little better in my book. Let’s get off to a good start and try to pronounce this beautiful mellifluous Italian word correctly. It astounds me how many times I hear it mispronounced by accomplished chefs and on the Food Channels where they should know better. It’s like running nails down a chalkboard in “Linda’s Italian Table-Land” every time I hear it mangled. What it is not: MARS –ka – pone. What it is: MOSS-car-po-ne!! There I’ve said it, and I feel better. As if the crab and tomatoes which go together like Martin and Lewis needed any embellishment – the addition of the beautiful velvety Mascarpone Cheese just puts it right over the top!
Ingredients: This is a truly beautiful dish and one that has all the ease of most Italian recipes. As always, the ingredients are key. Your dish will reflect them. Don’t cut corners. Just use the right stuff, and success will be yours! One point of note – your crab is critical. I do not recommend the canned stuff near the canned tuna at your grocer. You won’t taste it. Use fresh if you can get it or packaged fresh in containers from your fishmonger. Not everyone lives in Maryland like my friend, Peggy, who is surrounded by the little creatures and has daily access. Those containers of fresh packed crab in the seafood department work very well. I like Jumbo Lump or Lump Crab, as they both come in larger pieces and stay together nicely when you toss the sauce, usually with fewer shells. Backfin is okay but will be less distinguishable in the sauce, as it is shredded. There is nothing like biting into those large sweet chunks of Lump Crab and really tasting its sweetness. Most grocers carry it – also Whole Foods—and Costco (for a good deal!) etc.
Pasta: This lovely sweet sauce begs for a long graceful strand of pasta: spaghetti, linguine or capellini. Of course, Pasta Fresca is ideal!
Oh! And no grated cheese with this – please!
I absolutely cannot wait another second. I MUST make this subito!
SPAGHETTI WITH CRAB AND MASCARPONE SAUCE
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 30 minutes
1 lb. Spaghetti, linguine, or capellini cooked according to package directions
3 Tbsp. Olive Oil
3 Large Cloves Fresh Garlic
1/2 c. Dry White Wine
1 28 oz. Can San Marzano Tomatoes – crushed with your fingers
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 tsp. Red Pepper Flakes
1 lb. Fresh or Packaged Fresh Jumbo Lump or Lump Crab
2 Tbsp. Chopped Fresh Basil
8 oz. Mascarpone Cheese
1/4 c. Chopped Fresh Basil Leaves for garnish
Cook the garlic in the olive oil for a minute or two – do not burn!
Add the wine and cook another minute or two.
Add the tomatoes. I like crushing them with my fingers to get a more controlled consistency. Cutting them makes big chunks and blending makes them too fine.
Add also the salt, pepper, and red pepper.
Simmer at medium high, stirring occasionally, for about 20-25 minutes reducing the sauce and cooking out most of the liquid. You are left with a very condensed flavorful sauce.
Add crab and all juices that accompany it and the 2 Tbsp. Basil. Cook another minute or 2.
Turn off the heat and spoon in the Mascarpone. Stir in well until entirely incorporated. The sauce should turn a beautiful coral color.
Add the sauce to the pasta and garnish with plenty of Fresh Basil.
SPAGHETTI WITH CRAB AND MASCARPONE SAUCE should not, as with most seafood sauces in Italy, be served with grated cheese. Enjoy with a lovely Soave or Chardonnay perhaps? Even a beautiful summer dry Rosé – Fantastico!
PARLA COME MANGI!
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Food Photos By Tommy Hanks Photography