Monday, October 7, 2013

Angel Hair Pasta with Crabmeat, Oven-dried Tomatoes & Asparagus

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Angel Hair Pasta with Crabmeat, Oven-dried Tomatoes & Asparagus
Serves: 4
Angel Hair Pasta with Crabmeat, Oven-dried Tomatoes & Asparagus 
This is a relatively simple, yet elegant, pasta dish that is certain to impress. It always takes people by surprise. The flavor of the crab, the texture and color of caviar garnish and the bright green asparagus, make a beautiful presentation. Use your favorite seasonal crab in this dish. If you are not up to making your own angel hair pasta, buying it fresh from your local Italian grocer is fine. But, if not available, use a high quality Italian dried pasta. Oven drying the tomatoes really boosts their flavor (see after the pasta recipe for instructions). However it does require prior planning, so don't cut corners here if you can. They will keep refrigerated covered for 3-4 days so can be prepared well in advance.

To make perfectly cooked pasta, there are a few basic rules to follow. For every pound of pasta, use 4 quarts of cold water. Bring the water to a boil over high heat, add salt – enough so it “tastes like the ocean” – and when the water comes back to a rolling boil, add the pasta. Lower the heat slightly, stir the pasta with a long-handled spoon or fork, and cook until the pasta is al dente, or “firm to the tooth”. It will take a shorter time to cook freshly made pasta than dried store-bought.

I have posted numerous healthy recipes on the blog. Well, this one...not so much. But, one has to splurge sometime – and this is worth it. I would say portion control is important but it is impossible not to want to eat your entire portion.
  • 8 Tb (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 3 Tb chopped shallots
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ C oven-dried tomatoes cut into bite size pieces (recipe below)
  • 2 C chicken stock
  • ½ C heavy cream
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 14 oz. fresh or store-bought angel hair pasta
  • 8-10 oz. jumbo lump crabmeat
  • 1/3 C freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 Tb chopped fresh basil leaves, plus 8 whole leaves for garnish
  • ¼ C chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • 20 medium asparagus blanched, refreshed in cold water & gently dried
  • 1 Tb plus 1 tsp golden caviar, optional 
In a large skillet or sauté pan, melt the butter. Over medium heat, sauté the shallots and garlic until golden. Stir in the tomatoes and pour in the stock and cream. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Reduce by half. This can be done up to 1 hour in advance of serving.
The not even think about the calories!
While the sauce is reducing, bring a large stockpot of water to boil. Add salt and stir. Angel hair pasta takes very little time to cook. If fresh, it will take 1-2 minutes. If dried, follow package directions for al dente. Drain the pasta and add it to the sauce with the crabmeat, tossing the mixture well to heat through and coat with the sauce.
A mound of your favorite crab--this one is Dungeness
Remove from the heat, stir in the Parmesan cheese, basil and parsley and adjust the seasoning to taste.

To blanch the asparagus, bring salted water to a boil for 3-4 min and then put directly into ice.
Blanched asparagus
To serve, divide and mound the pasta in the center of 4 large heated pasta bowls or plates. Place 5-6 asparagus into each mound, top each portion with 1 tsp of golden caviar if desired, and garnish with a few whole basil leaves. Serve immediately.
Final product, with that beautiful caviar topping
This is a truly elegant sure-to-impress entrée. It actually comes together quite quickly if the tomatoes have been oven dried in advance. If no time, and you have amazing fresh tomatoes, peel and use them.  There are several white wines that would pair well with this dish, such as a dry Chardonnay, (would avoid an oaked wine), Chablis, dry Riesling, white Burgundy or a California Sauvignon Blanc.

Bon Appetit!

Oven-dried Tomatoes
Makes about 1½ C 
  • 12-14 medium Roma tomatoes (2 lbs.)
  • 1/4-1/2 C olive oil
  • Several sprigs fresh thyme
  • 6 garlic cloves, crushed
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • ¼ tsp freshly ground pepper
  • ½ tsp sugar

Preheat oven to 250 degree F. Peel tomatoes with a serrated peeler. Alternatively, in a pot of boiling water, blanch tomatoes. Drain and refresh in ice water. Drain and peel. Once peeled, core and cut into quarters, removing seeds.
Peeling the tomatoes
Line a baking tray with parchment paper and arrange the tomato quarters on the tray, cut side down. Drizzle generously with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt, sugar and pepper and add thyme sprigs.

Bake until tomatoes begin to shrivel, about 1 hour. When the tomatoes are cool enough to handle, transfer to a container. Pour olive oil over and cover the container. Refrigerate and use as needed.
How they look after oven drying and covered in olive oil
Recipe is modified from Wolfgang Puck.


  1. Will try using the oven dried tomatoes in other recipes too -- I end up with a bumper crop of Romas every year.

    1. Great idea. They are a wonderful addition to many dishes!