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.
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 cloves garlic, crushed
- 2 teaspoons red chili pepper, stemmed, seeded and finely chopped (may substitute red bell pepper)
- 1 1/4 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
- 1 1/4 tablespoons cilantro, finely chopped, plus extra for garnish
- 6 to 8 ounces backfin crabmeat, picked free of shells and carilage
- 1/2 lemon, finely grated zest and juice only
- Lime, wedges only, 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.
Adapted from "Easy Entertaining" (Kyle Books, 2006) by Irish chef Darina Allen, co-founder of the Ballymaloe Cooking School in County Cork.
Tested by Bonnie S. Benwick.
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