A beautiful taste of late Summer. Crab and fennel are a perfect match and great with pasta. Top this with a lovely chilli, anchovy and lemon pangrattato and a scattering of herbs and you have a dish ideal for alfresco dining enjoying the last of the Summer sun.
Pangrattato is Italian for breadcrumbs - fried up with a bit of olive oil to top your pasta or risotto dishes - and a much cheaper alternative to Parmesan. Crab and any kind of fishy pasta does not work with Parmesan anyway it just seems to 'clash' and become a bit cloying. The pangrattato adds a crunchy, spicy bit of texture which works well against the soft, delicate pasta flavours.
Let me know how you get on - I hope you enjoy - this is one of my favourite pasta dishes.
preparation time: 10 minutes
cooking time: 15-20 minutes
recipe by: chip butties and noodle soup
crab and fennel pasta with chilli and lemon pangrattato
100-170g cooked white crab meat - I used fresh Cornish white crab meat, but tinned is also fine.
1 fennel bulb - chopped/sliced - I cut my in chunky, lengthways slices
1 clove garlic - crushed
400g chopped tinned tomatoes
1 tsp fennel seeds
2 tbs olive oil
200g dried pasta - I used spaghetti
handful of chopped fresh herbs - a mix of basil and parsley works really well here
salt and pepper to taste
for the pangrattato:
100g white breadcrumbs (whizz up in food processor or tear/chop up - I left mine quite chunky)
2 tbs olive oil
1 tsp chilli flakes
zest of 1 lemon
- heat 2 tbs of olive oil in a pan, add your fennel seeds and garlic and fry for a minute or two before adding your chopped fennel.
- cook for about 5 minutes until your fennel has softened then add your tinned tomatoes.
- simmer and let your sauce reduce for about 10 minutes or so to make sure the fennel has softened well. Add a splash of water if it looks like it may be drying out.
- add your pasta to a large, salted pot of boiling water and cook until al dente (about 10 minutes but check by tasting a bit to see if it's ready).
- while the pasta and sauce are cooking fry off your breadcrumbs/pangrattato with 2 tbs olive oil, anchovies, lemon zest and chilli flakes until crisped up and lightly golden.
- when the pasta is done, drain and add to the pasta sauce along with your cooked crab meat - stir until well mixed - this also helps the sauce stick to the pasta as the starches are released from the stirring.
- check for seasoning and finish off with the chopped fresh basil and parsley, a squeeze of lemon juice and a large sprinkling of the pangrattato. Enjoy! Preferably outside, in the late Summer sun :-)