From the Chef ~ Notes from the Riviera: Penne alla Polpa di Granchio
Like learning a language, the best way to grasp a foreign kitchen is to just go there and eat.And that is what I do wherever I go—whether it’s pomegranate juice and tahini in the streets of Cairo or grilled chorizo in a Oaxacan market or pizza, pasta, and focaccia anywhere in Italy.Whatever the risk (and, yes, I have paid dearly for my adventuresome ways!), the reward is always greater when indulging in and comprehending the palette of another nation.I eat and drink—and when it’s particularly memorable, I shoot a photo and even take notes.Here’s one of those memorable meals from my diaries… Pasta with a RoséCrab Sauce.I had this plate of pasta circa July, 1998, in Corniglia, the middle and smallest—and my favorite—town of the famous Cinque Terre along the Italian Riviera.I’ve recreated this one a few times and it pleasurably evokes that dish before me long ago.Here are the notes that draw me back to that pranzo…humid high-80s day, damp swim trunks and a backpack, a rustic Mediterranean hamlet atop vine-covered hills that plummet instantly to the sea, a great plate of pasta.An afternoon at Cecio’s, a ma-and-pa trattoria with pasta al pesto, wine from the hills, and fresh, grilled, whole branzino smiling at you.Here are my notes, here’s my educated guess for you...
1.Heat water and prepare 1 lb. of pasta, preferably fresh.
2.Meanwhile, sauté a bit of minced onion or shallot (1/2 cup?) in some olive oil until translucent but not browned.
3.Add some pureed tomato (one 28 oz. can?) and simmer on medium for a bit to release some of the liquid (5 min.).
4.Add some cream (1/2 cup?if we were in Italia, it’d be panna) and cook a bit to release some of the liquid.Now add some crab meat (1/3 lb.?) and heat until just warm.
5.Add some fresh thyme and parsley—basil and a splash of cream sherry would be truly a decadent alternative.Add al dente pasta and cook together briefly.Serve and enjoy!