Having a well-stocked pantry can be a real lifesaver when work starts overflowing into your personal time. By “well-stocked pantry”, I’m not talking about boxes of mac and cheese and Styrofoam cups of instant noodles. I’m talking about a made-mostly-from-scratch meal that tastes like it could have come from a good Italian restaurant.
The trick is to have a few different types of dried pasta, good olive oil, canned stewed tomatoes (preferably ones that actually come from San Marzano), canned Italian tuna and canned crab in the pantry. Bonus points if you also happen to have a lemon and some good Parmigiano-Reggiano on hand. With this handful of ingredients you can come up with dozens of different quick weeknight pastas.
Canned crab and Italian Tuna aren’t the cheapest items, but if you consider the alternative of ordering takeout, they’re a steal. The best part is that they’ll keep in your pantry for months, if not years.
This simple crab pasta takes less than 30 minutes to make, but tastes like a lot more work went into it. A thick garlicky tomato sauce, infused with the sweetness of ripe bell peppers and the umami of crab, coats each strand of pasta.
By using both stewed tomatoes and tomato paste in the sauce you concentrate the flavor of the tomatoes making it taste like you’ve simmered the sauce for hours. A sprinkle of fresh herbs added in at the end not only boosts the visual appeal, they add a fresh flavor to the dish that will convince anyone eating the pasta that you were cracking crab legs an hour earlier.
Crab Pasta and Tomato Sauce
This simple crab pasta takes less than 30 minutes to make, but tastes like a lot more work went into it. The crab flavor mixed with a garlicky tomato sauce and sweet bell pepper flow together seamlessly in this easy, yet delicious pasta dish. Marc Matsumoto of NoRecipes shares this recipe in a full post at the Fresh Tastes Blog.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 medium cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 medium onion, diced
- 1/2 red or yellow bell pepper, seeded and sliced
- 14 ounce can, stewed whole tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 7 ounce can crab meat
- 8 ounces pasta, boiled according to package directions
- parsley or other green herb, minced (optional)
- Parmigiano-Reggiano (optional)
- Add the olive to a frying pan and heat over medium high heat. Add the garlic, onions, and bell pepper and sauté until the onions are just starting to brown. Add the tomatoes using your hands to crush them along with the tomato paste, salt and pepper. Cover loosely with a lid and simmer for 15 minutes.
- Start boiling a large pot of well salted water and about 5 minutes before the sauce is done, boil the pasta.
- Add the crabmeat along with any juices, and then stir to combine. Adjust salt and pepper to taste. When the pasta is done, drain it well, and then add it to the pan with the sauce along with the parsley (or other herbs). Toss to evenly distribute the sauce, then garnish with shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano. Serve immediately.
Yield: 2 servings
Marc Matsumoto is a culinary consultant and recipe repairman who shares his passion for good food through his website norecipes.com. For Marc, food is a life long journey of exploration, discovery and experimentation and he shares his escapades through his blog in the hopes that he inspires others to find their own culinary adventures. Marc’s been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today, and has made multiple appearances on NPR and the Food Network.