Dinner in 25 Minutes Linguine With Chili, Crab and Cilantro 4 servings

Al dente pasta can be a hit-or-miss bit of cookery, but this recipe employs a technique that can improve the odds. Boil a specific amount of water, add salt and dried linguine, and give it 2 minutes over direct heat. Then cover and let it stand for about the time it takes to prepare the crab sauce. It's simple, and it works.

Adapted from "Easy Entertaining" (Kyle Books, 2006, $35) by Irish chef Darina Allen, co-founder of the Ballymaloe Cooking School in County Cork. The dish tastes good warm or cold. Serve with garlic bread.

4 quarts water

1 tablespoon sea salt

8 ounces dried linguine or fettuccine

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 medium garlic cloves, crushed

1 small red chili pepper, stemmed, seeded and finely chopped (about 2 teaspoons; may substitute red bell pepper)

1 1/4 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley

1 1/4 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro, plus extra for garnish

6 to 8 ounces backfin crabmeat, picked free of shells and cartilage

Finely grated zest and juice from 1/2 lemon

Lime wedges, for serving

Freshly ground black pepper

Place the water in a large pot and bring to a rolling boil over high heat. Add the salt and pasta and stir gently. Cover and cook for 2 minutes, making sure all the linguine is submerged. Then turn off the heat and let the pasta stand, covered, for 8 to 10 minutes or until it is al dente: tender yet firm.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a medium nonstick skillet over medium-low heat. Add the garlic, chili pepper, parsley and cilantro. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring, until the garlic is fragrant. Add the crab and heat through for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring gently to combine.

Drain the linguine and return it to the pot (off the heat). Pour the crab-oil mixture over the pasta. Add the lemon zest, then the lemon juice and pepper to taste; toss to combine. Divide among individual plates and garnish with chopped cilantro. Serve with lime wedges.

Per serving: 383 calories, 16 g protein, 44 g carbohydrates, 16 g fat, 43 mg cholesterol, 2 g saturated fat, 179 mg sodium, 1 g dietary fiber

Recipe tested by Bonnie S. Benwick; e-mail questions to food@washpost.com

-- Bonnie S. Benwick- - - TIP {vbar} ABOUT BUYING COOKED CRABMEATThere may be no foolproof method for removing all the bits of shell, but seafood expert Whitey Schmidt of Crisfield, Md., recommends three brands that he finds reliably picked free: Linton's Seafood (http://www.lintonsseafood.com; 877-546-8667), Epicure from J.M. Clayton Co. (http://www.jmclayton.com; 800-652-6931, from April to November) and Smith Island Crabmeat Co-op Inc. (410-968-1344, starting in June).

Schmidt's fifth cookbook, "Chesapeake Bay Soups," will be published in March by Marian Hartnett Press ($16.95); to order, call 888-876-3767.

SO MANY QUESTIONS... {vbar} A Further Conversation From Our Weekly Online Chat Washington:What are goji berries, and can I cook with them? Also, does anyone know where to find them in the D.C. area?

Leigh Lambert:Goji berries, originally from Tibet, have gained a following in the West because of their high levels of antioxidants, beta carotenes, iron and protein. They are eaten fresh where grown but are dried for export. Found at Whole Foods Market and Yes! Organic Market, these mild and sweet rose-colored berries can be used in place of raisins or other dried fruit in cooking. When baking with them, reconstitute with a bit of liquid -- preferably from the recipe -- to soften their leathery skin, or try them in curries, where the gravy will rehydrate them. For easy snacking, you can also find chocolate-covered goji berries, no soaking required.

MEDIA SCAN {vbar} New Blogs And Video Logs

· http://www.doriegreenspan.com

Moved to create a continuing conversation with the folks she met during her "Baking: From My Home to Yours" book tour, Dorie Greenspanshares her daily cooking and eating life, divided among her three home towns: New York, Paris and Westbrook, Conn. Some recipes are new and some are tweaked from her books; all have the passion and accessible style her audience has come to appreciate. She's taking the pictures, too.

· http://www.spicesoflife.com

What began as a radio project has turned into a video-blogging platform for cookbook author Nina Simonds. She plans to report from restaurants, interview chefs and cover food, health and lifestyle as an integrated force. The first episodes launched this month. "It's sort of refreshing to do this every day and not have to write it all down," Simonds told us by phone last week from her home in Salem, Mass. Her knowledge of Asian cuisine and special interest in healthful eating enrich the footage, which is shot with a Nokia telephone.

· http://www.theslowcook.blogspot.com

Washingtonian Ed Bruske, a personal chef and former contributor to the Food section, celebrates food from local farms, what's growing in the back yard and recipes whose focus, as his URL name suggests, does not involve the quick route. Cultural tangents and recommended food-related reading are included.


· www.realmeals.tv

With a 100-video catalogue and two more added every day, the month-old Web site offers short plays of recipes and techniques that are professionally produced and set to snappy music. A few of the videos are viewer-submitted. It's a fast-growing offshoot of Real Health.TV, an information service, both founded by Internet television entrepreneur Dennis Lynch. Featured are New York area chefs, home cooks and bartenders, including restaurant chef Laurent Tourondel(BLT Steak). Coming up: a nationwide RealMeals.TV bus tour in which camera crews will tape chefs representing different cuisines.

-- Bonnie S. BenwickSHOPPING CART {vbar} Give It A Spin Whether you call them muffin stands, serviettes, dumbwaiters or Lazy Susans, user-friendly turntables have experienced a revival at recent housewares shows and are arriving now in stores. Clockwise, from lower right: · For entertaining, the 12-inch Vermont slate Lazy Susan by J.K. Adams(about $50) is a particularly stylish perch for cheese or fruit. Available at the Container Store and at http://www.thekitchenstoreonline.com.

· Made of plastic and stainless steel, the 11-inch turntable by InterDesign(about $20) comes in red, white or black. Available at Kuglers Home Fashions, 2148 Industrial Pkwy., Silver Spring, 240-247-0271; Home Rule, 1807 14th St. NW, 202-797-5544; and Rodman's stores in Friendship Heights, Kensington and Wheaton.

· From Oxo, 11-inch ($13) and 16-inch ($19) plastic turntables are well suited for the refrigerator or kitchen cabinets. At Linens 'n Things stores.

-- Walter NichollsTO DO TODAY:Book signing with Roland Mesnier, "All the Presidents' Pastries: Twenty-Five Years in the White House, a Memoir." Free. 7 p.m. Olsson's, 418 Seventh St. NW. 202-638-7610. SATURDAY:Cooking demonstration and lunch with chef Jacques Haeringer of L'Auberge Chez Francois. Featuring the pairing of cheese with boutique beers. $175. Proceeds benefit National Wildlife Federation. 11 a.m.-2 p.m. 332 Springvale Rd., Great Falls. 703-438-6015 or http://nwf.org/hungry.

TUESDAY:Wine dinner with Aldo Rafanelli of Antinori wines. $62.50 includes tax and tip. Reservations required. 7 p.m. Cafe Oggi, 6671 Old Dominion Dr., McLean. 703-442-7360.

RESERVE NOWMARCH 8:Three-course wine dinner with Peter Mondavi Jr. $150 includes tax and tip. 6:30 p.m. Morton's Steakhouse, 11956 Market St., Reston. 703-796-0128 or http://www.mortons.com.

MARCH 8:"Dining Out for Life": 150 area restaurants give a percentage of sales from meals served on this day to Food & Friends, a nonprofit home delivery of meals to people with HIV/AIDS. Reserve at http://www.diningoutforlife.com.

MARCH 10:Open-hearth cooking class. $45 for one adult and one child (at least 8 years old, accompanied by adult). 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Riversdale House Museum, 4811 Riverdale Rd., Riverdale Park. 301-864-0420 or http://www.pgparks.com.

-- Leigh Lambert

SEND NOTICES to: To Do, Food, The Washington Post, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071, or food@washpost.com, 14 days in advance.