Friday, December 9, 2011
Crabby Pasta, Happy Bellies
photo, crab stencil graffiti found in Ithaca, NY
Craig has been traveling for work for several weeks at a time. He is doing awesome work and we are fairing well at home, but it is hard some of the time. Long nights, lots of chores, two kids, holidays: I miss my partner. I miss laughing together, holding hands, sharing the chores, and taking turns getting up in the night. And his cooking, I miss that too. Though when he is gone is practically the only time I get to practice my own dinners, to see what I have learned from all the time observing, freshen up my latent skills, try things.
I also like seeing what the girls need of me in Craig's absence.
Coral is as moody as anyone, but as with most children, her mood can be lifted in an instant. When she is crabby she asks Craig to "shake her crabs out." He lifts her and holds her upside down and shakes, as if she were a bushel of apples being emptied, and exclaims "look at all those crabs shaking out!" He makes the sound of hundreds of little crab legs scuttling across the floor and shouts out where they are going, "down the heater vent, out the front door, hiding under the chairs!" Soon, Coral's crabs and scowls are gone and we are all laughing. When Craig is gone and I ask her if she is feeling crabby, she shoots me a scowl-y smile and I do my best to hoist her up and shake the crabs out.
One night, when I was crabby, Craig shook my crabs out with this pasta. And in his absence, I managed to pull it off myself on a night that was grey, freezing cold and me and the girls were all feeling a little worn out and crabby. It is joyously good, the essence of sea in the economical amount of crab, the land in the pasta, and the sunshine in the scallions. Enjoy!
As we live in Central New York state, it's a luxury to get frozen crab meat from a small company in Maine. No crabs in the lake here! If this dish was being made in California I'd substitute fresh, live Dungeness!
You will need:
A container of crab meat (look for a company harvesting crab sensibly ie, not trawling)
As many scallions as you like. Green part slivered, white parts quartered length-wise, then finely diced
1 garlic clove, smashed and chopped
3 anchovy filets. Rinse if using oil packed. Rinse and filet if using salt packed (better!)
An avocado quartered and sliced into 1/2" chunks
Fresh mint leaves (a light handful) slivered
Some parsley leaves
Penne or other Italian dried pasta you love
Start a large pot of salted water to boil.
Pour a few glugs of olive oil in a large skillet on medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, toss in the anchovies and mash with a fork until they've melted into the oil. Add a few grinds of black pepper. Remove pan from heat and turn the heat down to medium. Put the white parts of the scallions and the garlic clove into the anchovy oil and cook until just softened. Add the crab meat and stir to incorporate the other ingredients. Remove the skillet from heat.
By now the water should be boiling, add the pasta to the water and cook until just al dente. Using a spider, transfer the pasta to the pan with the crab/scallion mix. Add a couple ladles of the hot pasta water and mix with wooden spoons over medium-high heat until the liquid is almost all gone. Toss in the scallion greens, the avocado (save a few pieces to put on top) and the mint. Squeeze a bit of lemon juice and toss the pasta some more. Add the parsley leaves on to for a visual element and serve hot from the pan!