Jumbo lump crabmeat is one of my faves, so I was immediately drawn to this quick and easy pasta dish. While the Pasta with Crabmeat and Pancetta recipe calls for 12 ounces of crabmeat, the store had only a choice of half-pound or full-pound containers, so I purchased the latter. My surprise came after grocery shopping when I got home and took a look at the receipt. The price for the 16-ounces was $35.99, usually way more than we would spend for a weeknight dinner!
The costly jumbo lump crabmeat was beautiful and contained no filler and basically very little moisture—all pure succulent crab!
Oh well, I certainly wasn’t going to take it back, and I was determined to use the entire 16 ounces, culminating in a weeknight treat. In the spirit of such extravagance, Russ decided to forgo his gluten-free pasta (the wrong shapes on hand) and “suffer” through using the newly-purchased dried-egg tagliarelle. In the end, it reminded us of carbonara, but with sweet crab and the bright zing of lemon.
But the menu needed fiber and a pop of color, and we met that desire with an Orange, Avocado & Mâche Salad. Unfortunately for us, the supermarket didn’t have mâche, so we used baby mixed greens instead.
What is mâche, also called “corn lettuce” or “lamb’s lettuce”? It’s a European salad green that grows in small, rosette-shaped bunches. It has dark green leaves on short stems, and has a distinct sweet taste—making it known as the “mayonnaise of salad greens.” This little lettuce is sweet, soft, velvety and nutty. All the goodness of other mesclun mixes without any bitterness or peppery bites—so it works well with many ingredients.
With our pasta weighing in at 8.8 ounces as opposed to 12, and our crabmeat a hefty one-pound, we liked the carb-to-protein ratio much better. When you shop, hopefully you’ll get a better deal on jumbo lump crabmeat, but if not, perhaps indulging yourself with a candlelit weekend feast is the way to go…
Pasta with Crabmeat and Pancetta
- Kosher salt
- 4 oz. diced pancetta (about 1 cup)
- 4 large eggs
- 2-1/2 oz. grated pecorino romano (about 1 cup); more for serving
- 2 medium cloves garlic, minced
- Finely grated zest of 2 lemons (about 4 tsp.)
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 10 oz. dried egg fettuccine, or similar pasta shape
- 12 oz. cooked lump crabmeat, picked over
- Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil.
- Meanwhile, in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat, cook the pancetta, stirring occasionally, until crisp, 6 to 8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to small bowl.
- In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, cheese, garlic, half of the zest, and 1 tsp. pepper.
- Cook the pasta according to package directions for al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water, then drain.
- Immediately add the pasta, pancetta, and 1/4 cup cooking water to the egg mixture, tossing to combine; gently toss in about two-thirds of the crabmeat and additional cooking water as needed. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Serve topped with the remaining crabmeat and zest. Pass additional cheese at the table.
- 4 medium navel or Valencia oranges
- 3 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 Tbs. minced red onion
- 1 Tbs. red-wine vinegar
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 medium ripe avocado, thinly sliced
- 5 oz. mâche (about 6 loosely packed cups)
- Finely grate 1 teaspoon zest from one of the oranges and put in a large bowl. Using a sharp knife, trim off the peel and white pith from the oranges and cut crosswise 1/4 inch thick slices.
- Squeeze two or three orange slices over a small bowl to yield 1 tablespoon juice; add the juice to the zest along with the olive oil, onion, and vinegar. Whisk to blend and season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Arrange the remaining orange slices and the avocado slices to one side of 6 salad plates.
- Toss the mâche with the dressing, season to taste with salt and pepper, and mound next to the oranges and avocados.