August 11, 2011

Linguine with Crab, Radicchio, and Garlic - A Simple, Delicious, Summer Pasta

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This is another recipe from Mario Batali's cookbook that we've been hesitant to try out. There are no pictures, so nothing delicious looking to draw us in, which was the first problem. And as far as our previous experience had suggested, radicchio kind of, well... sucks. That may be a little harsh. It's just very bitter.

I am scared... we're really gonna try this?

However, when combined with the right ingredients and seasoned properly, the bitterness in the radicchio can be an excellent foil for a sweet flavor and add depth and complexity to an otherwise one dimensional dish. And that's exactly what it does in this lovely pasta concoction. It's simple, easy to prepare, and highly satisfying - a great dinner for a summer night.

Making the Dish
What You'll Need

(Serves: 2)

1/2 lb linguine
1/2 head radicchio
3 cloves sliced garlic
1/2 onion, chopped
6 - 8 oz lump crabmeat
sliced scallions
1/2 cup white wine
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
olive oil undefined
dash of crushed red pepper
salt and pepper to taste

Start off by getting all your ingredients ready since this comes together pretty quickly. Dice up your onion and garlic and thinly slice up your scallions. Then, thinly slice half a head of radicchio. We used a food processor for this, turning it into a fine slaw rather quickly.

Scallion slicing time

Additionally, go through your crab meat and make sure there are no shells still in there. The dish is not supposed to be crunchy :)

Start cooking your pasta first, because the sauce comes together quickly. In nicely salted water, cook your linguine until 1 minute shy of the package directions for al dente. While it's going, you can start your sauce.

Sautéing the onion and garlic in oil with some crushed red pepper. We may have also added some shallots. 

Sauté the onion in olive oil and a tablespoon of butter, and add in a touch of crushed red pepper if you'd like a little more kick. After they've softened slightly, add in the sliced garlic a bit of white wine and reduce to about half. Then take a ladle of the pasta water and drop that in there as well. The starchiness from the water will help to thicken the sauce.

The butter part of the white wine butter sauce.

When the pasta has finished cooking, take it out of the water and put it in the sauce pan. Throw in the radicchio, the crab meat, and the scallions, and toss everything together over medium heat to combine, cooking to absorb some of the pasta water and until the radicchio is somewhat wilted.

Adding the crab, radicchio, and scallions to the cooked linguine.

Season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve!

All the ingredients tossed together, wilting the radicchio.

The Wine
The wine we used for this, both to cook with and to drink during, was an inexpensive sauvignon blanc called Infamous Goose. It's from New Zealand, and is light and crisp. It's got strong flavors of apple and a really smooth finish. For something like $11 (and that's in NYC), it's a great deal.

This goose is infamous
The Result
We were very surprised by how much we enjoyed the dish. The radicchio played off the crab very nicely, with the scallions adding a bit of tang. The white wine butter sauce pulled everything together very nicely. Even though we were initially scared by what could have been some intensely bitter radicchio, in the end it turns out to be unwarranted. The radicchio acted as almost like a seasoning, and it was delicious!

Have you cooked with radicchio before? Let us know what you did and what you thought of it in the comments below!

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