When Less is More

Angel Hair with Dungeness Crab, White Wine, Lemon and Herbs

Photo by Lorelle Del Matto

I often hear the phrase “life is complicated.”   Well, sometimes food is complicated.  Sometimes we crave something simple but still sustaining and satisfying – like fussier food.  This very light crab pasta dish is just the ticket when you’re taste buds demand simplicity.

If your idea of seafood pasta includes a rib-sticking, thick creamy sauce, or a creamy, cheesy sauce, do not make this dish; it will disappoint you.

When you cook simply there’s nowhere to hide less than top-quality ingredients.  If you do try this recipe, make sure you have pristinely fresh crabmeat, a good dry wine, just-picked herbs and quality olive oil or butter.

Angel hair pasta and Dungeness crab are perfect partners because they are both the most delicate in their class. Try unsalted butter instead of part of the olive oil for a rich, buttery taste.  A tablespoon or two of drained capers are a good addition.  If the anchovies scare you, know that they are mashed to a paste to serve as a flavor enhancer and disappear into the fabric of the finished dish.

Crab meat is a delicacy that packs a nutritional punch.  A 3 ½ ounce serving (100 grams) has 22 grams of protein, about a gram of fat and is a good to excellent source of  the B vitamins riboflavin, niacin and B12 and the minerals copper, magnesium, potassium, selenium and zinc.

Enjoy something simple.

Angel Hair with Dungeness Crab, White Wine, Lemon and Herbs

Remember to save some of the water from cooking the pasta to sauce the pasta, as needed. 

3 tablespoons olive oil (or 2 tablespoons unsalted butter and 1 tablespoon oil)

2 to 3 cloves finely chopped garlic

3 canned anchovies, drained

½ teaspoon crushed red pepper

1 ½ cups dry white wine

1 pound fresh crabmeat, picked over for shells and cartilage

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh chives

3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh thyme

4 teaspoons lemon zest

Freshly ground black pepper

12 ounces angel hair pasta

Salt, to taste

1 to 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil or melted unsalted butter, to taste


In a large deep skillet, heat 3 tablespoons olive oil (or butter and olive oil) over medium-low to medium heat.  Add garlic, anchovies and crushed red pepper.  Mash anchovies with the back of a fork to a smooth paste.  Add white wine and bring to a gentle boil, adjusting heat as needed.  Simmer until reduced by about half.  Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil to cook the angel hair.  Salt the water, add pasta and cook as package directs until al dente.  While pasta cooks, stir crab meat into the wine mixture, cover and simmer very gently for a few minutes, until hot. Remove from heat and stir in parsley, chives, thyme, lemon zest, and black pepper.  Keep warm.  When pasta is done, drain well, reserving about 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water.  Place pasta in a large serving bowl, add sauce and toss well, adding some of the pasta cooking water as needed.  Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil or a little melted butter, as desired.  Serve hot.  Makes 4 servings.

© 2013 Lorelle Del Matto


lorelle About lorelle

Crazy about cooking, eating and sharing good food – my work and leisure revolve around the kitchen. As a culinary dietitian my professional life encompasses nutrition counseling and education, recipe development, product development, food and nutrition writing, marketing communications, corporate test kitchen and consumer affairs management, food styling and work as a product spokesperson.

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