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Thomasina Miers’ recipe for crab pasta al ajillo | Food

Wif ever i’m in spain and i see al ajillo on the menu, I always jump on it; I assume any slow cooked sauce with olive oil, garlic and paprika should be good. In Mexico, an almost identical dressing uses guajillo peppers instead of paprika. Mild in heat and sweet in taste, the peppers impart a nice, terracotta color to garlic oil, and I highly recommend getting your hands on some (they’re easy to find online

Crab pasta al ajillo

Riccioli is a pasta shape with a tight spiral that catches the crab sauce well, but fusilli works well too.

Preparation 5 minutes
Cook 15 minutes
Serves 2-3

3-4 guajillo peppers (or other mild to medium dried chiles)
Salt and black pepper
300 g short pasta
– I like riccioli or fusilli
80 ml extra virgin olive oilplus extra to drizzle
5-6 large cloves of garlicpeeled and cut into thin slices
200 g crabwhite and brown meat
A big handful of parsleyleaves finely chopped (keep the stems for another use)
Zest and juice of 1 lemon

Remove the stems and seeds from the peppers, discard and cut the flesh into thin, wispy rings or strips (I use scissors). Thinly slice the garlic and finely chop the parsley leaves, reserving the stalks for a pesto or salsa.

Bring a large pot of water to the boil, add half a teaspoon of salt and once it boils, add the pasta. Cook for as long as directed on the package, while heating some pasta bowls.

Heat a wide, deep frying pan over medium heat and after a few minutes pour in the oil and heat it briefly (it should not be too hot, otherwise the garlic and chillies will burn). Add the garlic, cook for a minute, then stir in the chillies for a few minutes, until the garlic turns a pale yellow color.

Now stir in the brown crab meat and parsley and keep stirring until the crab has disappeared from the oil and a creamy sauce is formed. Grate over the lemon zest and squeeze in half of the lemon juice. Taste and season.

The pasta should now be al dente. Drain, reserving half a cup of the cooking water and add the pasta to the crab sauce along with half of the white crab meat. Stir for a few minutes and add enough of the cooking water to make a glossy, emulsified sauce.

Divide the pasta between the bowls and top with the rest of the white crab meat, a grind of black pepper, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a final squeeze of lemon. Eat immediately.

The simple flex…

Ditch the crab and make instead Espinacas al ajillo by wilting some spinach in the garlic and chili oil before tossing it through the pasta. Add some toasted seeds for the crunch. You can also use Swiss chard or nettle.