A bowl of crab linguine eaten outside on a summer’s evening with a glass of crisp white wine is a simple delight. It is one of those dishes that is effortlessly elegant, taking only minutes to prepare but good looking on the plate.
Summer ingredients for 2 to 4 people:
White crab meat - 400 grams or so
Half a dozen plum tomatoes or a few handfuls or cherry tomatoes
Juice of a lemon
A garlic clove, finely chopped
A red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
A handful of flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped
Extra virgin olive oil and olive oil
Note on crab meat: If you are making this as a smart dinner party dish then use only the best fresh white crab meat you can lay your crustacean loving hands on, if not use quality frozen which is absolutely fine for a family supper. Please do not use tinned, come on it’s a bit like drinking soya milk – life is just too short!
Note on tomatoes: For a simple supper I just chop up cherry tomatoes. For an elegant dinner make tomato concasse though – boil a pan of water and have a pan of iced water at hand too. Dip in your plum tomatoes for 5-10 seconds only and lift out with a slotted spoon into the iced water. Remove the skins which should just pull away, if they do not pull away easily just dip back in the boiling water. Quarter them lengthways and remove the seeds. Now you have what is called tomato tongues. Dry these on kitchen towel. Cut into neat squares. Done.
Now here we go, so get ready – it’s a quick one. You can make the sauce in the time it takes to cook the Linguine, which is even faster than cooking spaghetti!
Get a couple of good slugs of olive oil into a large frying pan, throw in the garlic and chilli and sizzle for a few minutes but do not let it brown. Add in your crab meat – you only want to warm this through as it is already cooked. Put in the tomato, parsley and lemon juice and mix through before turning off the heat.
Once the linguine is cooked drain it and mix through your crab mixture. Now pour in your finest extra virgin olive oil, don’t drown it, just a generous glug. Mix through and taste. Does it need salt, more lemon juice, more parsley, more olive oil? –get that seasoning spot on and serve.
That really is it.
Getting the pasta to crab ratio is a skill to hone with this dish, do not be stingy but then again do not over do it. The real trick with this dish is judging how much olive oil, lemon and chilli to use which will vary with the heat of the chilli. A larger quantity of a milder chilli is better I think as you get more nice red dots going through the pasta. It should be fresh tasting from the lemon and parsley but have a nice warm aftertaste.
The winter version is very similar just a bit more robust. Do as for the summer dish but replace one third of the white crab meat with brown meat. Also add in some finely sliced spring onions (green part only) at the same time as the parsley and mix in an egg yolk or two when mixing the crab and linguine at the very end.