While Dungeness crab may seem like a splurge for a weeknight, when you add it to this family favorite a little goes a long way.
12 ounces elbow pasta or medium-size shell pasta
1/2 cup panko (Japanese-style bread crumbs)
1/2 cup freshly shredded parmesan cheese (preferably using a Microplane, which makes the cheese fluffier)
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons fresh or 1 tsp. dried thyme leaves
2 tablespoons salted butter
2 tablespoons flour
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
3 1/2 cups whole milk, warmed
1 cup grated sharp white cheddar
12 ounces shelled, flaked Dungeness crab
1 green onion, sliced 1/4 in. thick
How to Make It
Arrange an oven rack 5 in. from heat and preheat broiler. Cook pasta according to package instructions; drain well, then rinse with cold water. Drain again and set aside.
In a small bowl, mix panko, parmesan, oil, and thyme. Set aside.
Melt butter in a large ovenproof frying pan over medium-high heat. Add flour, salt, pepper, and cayenne; cook, whisking, until bubbling and light tan, 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. Add milk and cook, whisking, until small bubbles appear at edge of pan and sauce just begins to thicken, 3 to 5 minutes. Reduce heat to low, add cheddar, and whisk until blended. Add crab and reserved pasta; toss gently to mix and heat through.
Spread crab mixture evenly in pan and scatter with panko mixture. Transfer to oven and broil until bread crumbs are well browned, about 1 minute. Top with green onions.
Wine pairing: Cinder 2015 Dry Viognier (Washington and Idaho; $18).
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I made this tonight and it was good, though it seemed there was too much milk for the amount of cheese called for. I ended up adding at least an extra cup of cheese. That said, I used a mixed cheese blend I had on hand, not extra sharp cheddar, and unfortunately my sauce separated a bit. The topping was delicious, and we really enjoyed the crab mixed in, though.
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