food to glow

feel good food that's good for you

crab linguineIn winter many of us are happy to take a bit more time preparing meals – chopping stuff to pop into the slow cooker to enjoy later; cooking down a sulfurous pile of onions to a sweet tangle of deliciousness. But Spring, well it is the shape of things to come, with gardens to be pottered in, hills to be climbed, miles to be run (the first only for me!). After a cooped up winter we just want to be outside, not inside reducing a heavy sauce or tending to a stovetop stew. So even though the temperature is not yet playing ball, I am just going to pretend it is warm, willing on the thermometer with spring-fresh meals like this.

If I had a penny for every version of this zingy dish, I would indeed be a rich woman. But just because it is well-represented in cookbooks, on the Internet and in magazines doesn’t mean it isn’t special. For me this dish represents spring – its freshness, its seasonality and its ease. Truly it is one of the first non-wintry dishes that I am drawn to make. And we continue to make versions of it until crab season ends and my own supply of kitchen garden herbs is but a memory. Right now I am cheating a bit as we are still unseasonably cold (single Celsius digits -boo), but crab and commercially grown new season’s herbs are in full swing and plentiful. If I could hold out until July (!) new garlic, soft and mild, would be in it too.

Another reason I am ineluctably drawn to making this dish right now – while I am still wearing layers of wool and my feet have only been bare in the shower – is I am paying delicious penance for an indulgent weekend. After a couple of days of not giving a stuff what we ate, all of us here at food to glow are clamouring for clean, fresh and snappy flavours. This easy recipe fulfils this brief in just a few ingredients. But we are holding off on the usual accompanying glass of knife-sharp white.

Other recipes of this ilk are just as easy – this one from BBC Good Food is super simple and includes white wine; this one from Nigella is predictably luxurious with its overdose of pasta and olive oil, but with a shot of health from watercress. Really all of these recipes – mine included – are just a template. The only rules seem to be to use fresh herbs, good quality, slightly al dente pasta, and best quality crab. The latter can be tinned (least favoured option, but year-round), or frozen (year-round too), but fresh and picked-over by your fishmonger is best: its sweetness will balance well with the sharp citrus and grassy herbs. If crab is pricey where you are then crayfish are a good option, also being surprisingly sweet, and without the possibility of finding bits of shell in your dish. Alternatively, you might like to use creamy white beans for a very acceptable vegan version. I actually like it this way with some avocado for a quick and cheap lunch for one, also ditching the pasta in favour of Ryvita crispbreads (the ones with the seeds – yum). You can also amp up the heat subtly with a grating of fresh ginger, or replace the chilli with the ginger, full stop.

Because this recipe is loaded with fresh herbs I can’t think of a more appropriate place to link up with than over at Karen of Lavender and Lovage’s delightful Herbs On Saturday. And while I’m at it maybe Mark of Javelin Warrior’s Cookin’ With Luv will let me pop this onto his Made With Love Mondays. Both are open to all food bloggers, so if you have a herby or made from scratch recipe you wish to share, go over and visit them for the rules and regs. I hope to see you over there!

What recipe says Spring to you?

crab linguineLinguine with Spring Herbs, Chilli and Crab

This week 2011: Pancetta and Bitter Greens Tart; Two Soda Breads

This week 2012: Forager’s Fritters

Miss R’s Track of the Week: Gezillig by fantastic Scottish band The OK Social Club (fronted by the fabulous and charismatic Raff Eragona)

In my house, this easy flavoursome dish gets made as soon as crab season commences. Of course it can be made with canned crab, and most definitely frozen crab, but the happy coincidence of fresh outdoor grown herbs and seasonal crab makes it all the more enjoyable. I sometimes pad it out with slivers (well, chunks) of ripe avocado, but mostly we plump for all-crab and hang the cost.

I have stipulated white claw meat but if you like the earthy assertiveness of brown, be my guest to substitute some of the costlier white for more wallet-friendly brown. And it goes without saying really that you can use gluten-free pasta. For that matter you can skip the pasta altogether and use the chilli-herb-crab melange as a topping for toasted bread (crostini) or even slices of cucumber (posh party nibble). Any leftovers make an unusual omelette filling the next morning. Or so I would think. We’ve never had leftovers.

150g dry linguine, spaghetti or tagliolini
3 peeled cloves of garlic
1 red chilli, roughly chopped – we like it half deseeded but deseed completely if you like
120g white crab meat, or a mixture of white and brown OR cooked white beans
Handful each of coriander, mint leaves and parsley (or just two of them), chopped
Flaky salt, to taste (I usually use about 1 tsp)
Juice of one lemon or lime, and zest of half
4 tbsp best extra virgin olive oil

Chilli flakes or grated ginger, optional garnish for more heat.

Cook the pasta as directed for al dente while you make up the crab mixture.

For the crab mixture, pop the garlic, chilli and salt either in a food processor or use a pestle and mortar. For either option, pulse or pound until it you get a paste. Now add in the herbs and pulse/pound until you have a chunky but well-mixed paste. Decant the spicy herby, fantastic-smelling paste into a bowl and mix in the crab meat, citrus juice, zest and olive oil- mixing well with a fork.

When the pasta is cooked, drain it, pop it back into the pan and then pour in the crab mixture, forking it through evenly – I usually use tongs to lift and turn it all around. Taste for seasoning – maybe more citrus, maybe more salt or more chilli. Serve immediately.

Vegan option: Use best-quality cooked white beans or edamame – delicious

Serves 2.crab linguinecrab linguine

33 thoughts on “Linguine with Spring Herbs, Chilli and Crab

  1. This would be a perfect candidate for Herbs on Saturday Kellie and the photos and recipe are really super! I adore linguine and my favourite way when I lived in the States awas Alfredo! Karen
    The link is here, should you to choose to add it! 🙂

    1. Will do, Miss Karen. I thought I might anyway but I wanted to publish first to get the link. Thanks for the official invite 😀

      1. Thanks Kellie! Such a vibrant entry!

    2. bizzylizzycooks says:

      Just popping in to say I love the idea of Herbs on Saturday!

  2. kellysiew says:

    Beautiful pictures. Pasta looks refreshing with the amount of herbs.

    1. Thanks so much Kelly. You can put as much as you like in it. Normally I go a bit over the top but I thought for the photos everyone should see there are other ingredients involved too 😀

  3. Love the combination of flavors here, Kellie – the crab and chile pepper with the linguine and lemon sounds so delicious. And it certainly puts me in the mood for spring – which here in this part of the US, we have been experiencing for the past 3 or 4 days! Now if only it would last…

    1. A whole 3 or four days! Well you are spoiled then ;D Hopefully the temperatures here will start matching today’s dazzling sunshine. Really still very cold…

  4. This is beautiful, Kellie. I love how artistic you got with the pasta delicately wrapped around the fork… made me weak hahaha! But for real, this looks beautiful. Thanks for the idea!

    1. Well in real life it was of course not very delicate! More like a pile of crabby, herby pasta in which a fork would have got well and truly lost. So glad you like it Allie 😀

      1. Hahaha of course, of course. Knowing how hard food styling can be, though, I have a special appreciation for when it is done well 🙂 LOVE your glasses by the way!

      2. Ah thanks Allie. The glasses are massive but I have such terrible vision that I can no longer get away with smaller frames. Next pair will undoubtedly cover my entire face. No bad thing ;D

  5. thespicyrd says:

    So divine!!!! I am tempted to buy some fresh crab and pick some herbs from my garden {oops! must grow some first :-)} and make this dish right away. I hope you are treated to some spring like weather soon!!!!

    1. Ha! My wintry herbs – rosemary, sage & bay – are happy enough but everything else is terribly reluctant to get going. Afraid of being covered in snow I suspect. Thanks for the great tweet too! You are such a star 😀

  6. I have a love affair with seafood and pasta and that amount of fresh herbs makes me happy!

    1. Snap!! It’s totally about the herbs here 😀

  7. Maria Tadic says:

    I’ve seen so many pasta recipes over time, but none like this! I’m definitely going to try this – it’s such a unique recipe! And i love chili and crab!

  8. rawdenimgeek says:

    Reblogged this on RawDenimGeek.

  9. Sophie33 says:

    I love to sue here the white & brown crab meat for added flavour: so good, so tasty looking too! My dinner for tonight! A huge thanks to you! 🙂 x

    1. You are most welcome. I really hope you like the crab linguine. But what’s not to like? It’s not really even cooking, is it?!

      1. Sophie33 says:

        I so agree here! 🙂

  10. bizzylizzycooks says:

    Hello Kellie, what a beautifully fresh and delicious looking recipe. It simply sings of Springtime. And your photographs are, as always, stunning.

    Like you, we are undergoing very unseasonal weather… though it is warm here. The mornings are really crisp (I may have to pot my chilli plants and bring them indoors soon!), but the days are warm (around 26 degrees!).

    Asparagus recipes are my favourite in Spring. I have a few on Good Things. If you are interested, simply use the search box.

    Happy cooking my friend. xo

  11. This is one of my all time favourite dishes. Since eating it at the River Cafe years ago I have loved it and cook it regularly. I never ever tire of it and your looks simply delicous!

  12. Jacqueline @How to be a Gourmand says:

    Fantastic way of introducing Spring into your home (even though the temperature may not feel like it!). Fresh and zingy – simply delicious Kellie!

  13. Looks delicious and very spring-y. Anything with crab gets my attention. Lovely post.

  14. theinnercook says:

    Reblogged this on theinnercook and commented:
    Sounds absolutely delicious.

  15. Sally says:

    Just entering the searing heat of summer here so this is just what we like to eat. Sadly I’m the only crab eater (and there are beautiful mud crabs in the shops right now) but edamame beans are a great idea – then my vege daughter will eat too. I have fresh garlic and loads of herbs. Actually this is tonight sorted.

    1. I hope you enjoyed it. Did you add avocado to it? I love edamame and avocado in this. Lucky you with your loads of herbs -still market pickings for us right now. But yesterday was finally warm enough for just shirt sleeves. Woo hoo! PS I bought a load of gorgeous tomatoes yesterday and plan to roast and pop into the Vitamix per your post. I’ll let you know how it is, or if I end up painting the ceiling red!

  16. Debbie says:

    I am sitting full and happy having had this for tea. Thank you!

    1. Aw, I’m so glad you enjoyed it. And thanks for leaving your comment! I hope it makes it into your spring and summer cooking repertoire.

  17. mjskit says:

    What a fabulous pasta dish! I love all of the fresh herbs and the bit of spicy. Definitely one of those dishes I enjoy in the spring. Saw this at Made w/ Luv and just had to check it out. So glad I did!

  18. Stunning entry thanks, and thanks for being such a wonderful supporter of Herbs on Saturday! Karen

  19. Oh YUM!!! This looks wonderful!

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