There are recipes that transcend the simple sum of their parts. The pasta that Rob made for the Amazing Race dinner party last week was one such. All he did—ALL he did! was show up with a big bowl of buttery slurry, studded with bright emerald chips of jalapeno and tender lumps of crabmeat, and a couple of boxes of angel hair pasta.
From the comfort of the couch, I watched as he put a pot of water on for the pasta, then set out some bits of meat and cheese for appetizers, and loaves of freshly made bread. As the other guests arrived, they were pulled into the inevitable orbit around the kitchen, talking and nibbling and getting drinks.
Within minutes, before I could even bestir myself and offer to lend a hand, the pasta was drained and stirred into the buttery mixture, and dinner was on.
Earlier in the week, Rob had mentioned that he was going to try something a little wacky for dinner on Sunday. Indeed, who would ever think that you could put jalapenos, mint, and crab together and get a finished pasta dish?
But the smell alone convinced me that he was on to something, and it wasn’t wacky at all. This dish was almost as much about scent as taste. The freshness of the mint wafted across my palate like the first sip of an ice-cold mojito, my mind insisting on a hint of lime. The tiny, crunchy bits of jalapeno didn’t add heat so much as brightness to the dish. And the angel hair pasta was delicate enough to seem infused with the sweetness of the crab.
Dead simple. Crazy simple, even. An unexpected combination that simply danced together.
Capellini with Crab, Jalapenos, and Mint
(adapted from Italian, My Way by Jonathan Waxman)
- 1 cup butter, cut into small cubes
- 1 lb crab meat
- 2 jalapenos, cored, seeded and minced
- 24 mint leaves, torn
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- Juice of 2 lemons
- 2 lbs angel hair pasta
- Salt and pepper
Cook pasta in salted water. Combine crab meat, butter, mint leaves, and garlic in a large bowl. Strain pasta, and stir into the butter mixture. Squeeze in juice of one lemon, and salt and pepper to taste.