2 cans (28 oz. each) Italian-style peeled tomatoes
3 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
1/4 cup thinly slivered fresh basil leaves or 1 tablespoon dried basil
1 pound dried angel hair pasta or fresh linguine
4 ounces shelled cooked crab
Salt and pepper
3 to 4 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley
How to Make It
Pour olive oil into a 12-inch frying pan (with sides at least 2 in. tall) or 6- to 8-quart pan over medium heat. When warm, add crabs in the shell and cook, stirring occasionally, until juices leak into pan, 5 to 7 minutes. With tongs, transfer crab pieces to a large serving bowl; cover and keep warm in a 200° oven.
Add tomatoes (including juice), garlic, and basil to pan. With a wooden spoon, scrape any crab bits from bottom of pan. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat, stirring occasionally. Boil gently, uncovered, stirring occasionally and crushing tomatoes with a potato masher or spoon and reducing heat as sauce thickens, until sauce is thick and reduced to about 4 1/2 cups, about 30 minutes. Remove from heat. Spoon about a third of the sauce over crabs in the shell; cover loosely and return to oven.
About 15 minutes before sauce is done, in a 6- to 8-quart pan over high heat, bring 3 to 4 quarts water to a boil. Add pasta, stir to separate, and cook just until barely tender to bite, 3 to 4 minutes for dried angel hair pasta, about 2 minutes for fresh linguine. Drain.
Over low heat, add the shelled cooked crab to remaining tomato sauce; stir occasionally until hot, 1 to 2 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Pour drained pasta into sauce and mix well.
Mound pasta in a wide, shallow serving bowl. Remove crab from oven and sprinkle both crab and pasta with parsley.
This recipe is fantastically delicious! I don't serve it with pasta, but instead put all the crab and sauce into big bowls alongside big hunks of crusty sourdough and butter. One warning: consuming this crab is a VERY messy process. You're picking up and peeling crab that is slathered in tomato sauce. I rate this recipe 5 stars and 5 rolls of paper towels.
This has been our traditional Christmas Eve dinner since it was published in Sunset. I usually buy crab on sale in early December and freeze them whole after cleaning. The day before making the dish, I put the crab in the refrigerator to defrost. I also usually use a can of cooked crab instead of the 4 oz. of cracked crab meat.
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