Friday, January 13, 2012

Linguine with Crab, Lemon, Chiles, and Mint

This is a lighter pasta dish, but the combination of spicy peppers with the rich crab meat and bright acidity of the lemon makes an extremely flavorful meal.  The fresh mint adds some much needed coolness to round out the dish.  Depending on how spicy you want it you can change up the chile peppers.  I found ours to be on the very spicy end, but for Sean who loves spicy food it was just perfect.  Crab meat is pretty expensive, but I recommend going for quality over quantity.  You can find little containers of crab meat in the fish section of the grocery store, and 8oz is all you need for the dish (though more would never hurt!) It's also a pretty quick meal... we didn't time it or anything but I'd say it could be done in 30 minutes if I had to guess.  Serve with a glass of crisp, refreshing white wine.  Recipe adapted from Epicurious.
1 lb linguine
Kosher salt
2 T unsalted butter
1 large (or two small) thinly sliced shallots
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 jalapenos thinly sliced (seeded if you want to remove some spice)
1 Anaheim pepper (or other low-heat pepper) sliced
3 minced Thai chiles (optional- these are super spicy!)
1 lemon- zested and juiced (should be at least 2 T of juice from one lemon)
Freshly ground black pepper
8 oz crab meat
1/2 cup fresh mint leaves, roughly chopped
Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling water - heavily salted.  When it is just shy of al dente, drain the noodles, reserving 1 cup of pasta cooking liquid for later.  Meanwhile, heat a large pan to medium and melt butter.  Add shallots with a couple pinches of salt and cook for 2-3 minutes or until softened and fragrant.
Next, add the peppers and garlic to the pan with a little more kosher salt and continue cooking for about 4-5 minutes until the peppers are soft.
Add the juice from half of the lemon and 3 T of the pasta water to the pan and cook until liquid is evaporated.  Add the linguine to the pot and stir to combine with the shallot and pepper mixture.  Add the remaining pasta water and cook over medium high until water is almost evaporated and has a glossy finish.  Continue stirring with tongs every few seconds.  Finally, add the lemon zest, the other half of lemon juice, mint, and crab. (Reserve some zest and mint for garnish if you would like)  Toss with the tongs to combine. 

Sprinkle a heavy dose of freshly ground black pepper on the pasta.  Taste for additional salt as well.  Serve with extra mint and lemon zest on top.  Yum!

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