While crab may be popular in the summer, the primary season is actually October through January—Alaska and Maine start in the fall, while Maryland’s season starts in April and ends in November. Thus, Colu Henry’s latest recipe for F&W Cooks is a fitting bridge between summer and fall, combining fresh crab meat and tagliatelle with pea shoots and tender herbs. The pasta, which serves four to six, is simple and light with high-quality ingredients as the starring attraction—the best part? It all comes together in 35 minutes, and pairs beautifully with sparkling wine. Read on for Henry’s key tips for making the dish.
Don’t overcook the pasta
This recipe calls for fresh pasta, which cooks much faster than dry pasta—about two minutes, in this case. Make sure you save some pasta water for the sauce, and then drain it once it’s done cooking.
Know the difference between Fresno chiles and jalapeños
Henry uses Fresno chiles in this dish, which are milder than jalapeños. And while jalapeños are generally green, she cautions that they can look red sometimes. You can tell the difference between the two by examining the walls of the peppers—Fresno chiles have thinner ones.
Leave in the seeds if you want extra heat
Henry chooses to de-seed the chiles for this recipe, but she says you can leave them all in if you don’t mind a kick.
Add everything to the pan
Henry starts by melting butter in a skillet over medium heat, before adding the chiles, garlic, and shallots. She cooks them until they’re softened (about a minute or two) and then adds white wine, cooking more until it reduces about halfway. At this point, you should turn the heat up toward medium-high, and add the lemon juice and crab meat, tossing it until everything is warmed through. After that, it’s time to add the pasta and a touch more butter, which you want to melt into the sauce.
Treat your pea shoots carefully …
When you’re looking for pea shoots at the farmers’ market, Henry says to make sure they’re not wilted or bruised. You can store them at home in a zip-top bag wrapped in a damp paper towel, and they’ll last for a few days.
…and don’t cook them down too much
When you add the pea shoots to the pasta mixture, you can add a little pasta water to help them along; however, don’t cook them down all the way, as you still want some crunchy texture.
The finishing touches
Once you’ve plated the pasta (make sure to get lots of crab in there), grab fresh tender herbs for a garnish—Henry uses mint, basil, and chives. She also grates some fresh lemon zest on top for an added punch of flavor, as well as flaky sea salt for texture.
Don’t forget the wine
While white wine is normally paired with crab, Henry opts for something pink and bubbly to match this recipe—Free Mousse Pet Nat from Manoir de la Tête Rouge. It’s a bright and tart sparkling wine, and the acidity also helps to cut through the richness of the butter.
Get the recipe here.