Granchio….plump, juicy, soft shell crabs that is.  Fresh from the water.  Tasting of the sea.  For those of us fortunate enough to be close to the ocean, the New Jersey shore delivers this time of year.  This simple dish cannot be beaten.

Linguine with Crabs

1 pound linguine or spaghetti
5 Soft Shell Crabs
1 pound lump crab meat
1 sweet onion, diced
1 clove garlic smashed
6 torn basil leaves
6 tablespoons butter
6 oz. San Marzano Passata
Dry White Wine
Handful fresh Italian Parsley, chopped
Salt & Pepper to taste

The first thing I needed to do was clean the crabs.  I’d never done this before but the purveyor showed me how. It was very easy, though kind of gross. Ask your fish monger to clean them for you. 
In a large heavy bottomed pot, I sauteed the onion, garlic and herbs in some extra virgin olive oil and about 3 tablespoons of butter.  Once these softened and began to take on a little color, I deglazed with 1/2 cup white wine and then reduced to a simmer.
While the pasta is cooking, saute the soft shell crabs.  I used the other 3 pats of butter and a splash of white wine.  They only take 2-3 minutes per side and will turn an orangey color like shrimp or lobster – but not quite as bright.  Work in batches to avoid over crowding. 

~ Two Crabs in a line! These are almost done on the bottom and will soon be turned over ~

Once the pasta and the soft shells are done,  add the lump crab meat to the heavy bottomed sauce pan.  Stir to warm and then drain the pasta right into the pan.  Toss to coat well and add the San Marzano Passata and continue to toss until it warms through.  Check for seasoning, serve to a platter and top with the soft shells.  Pure and delicious flavors of the sea! 

~ Linguine with Crab Meat & Soft Shell Crabs ~
What to drink?  We opened a few nice whites that I’ll review separately – the 2012 Dry Creek Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc and the 2011 Nobilis Fiano del Avellino from Campania.  Both whites were delicious with the crab meat, though I might give the nod to the Dry Creek.  Simpy outstanding!  You could also try a slightly chilled red such as Lambrusco, a Frascati or even a fruity Rose.
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