Okay, I don’t like radicchio. Specifically, I am not enamored of cooked radicchio and, for that matter, most cooked lettuce analogs. So when my lovely wife found an interesting pasta recipe (that included radicchio) in Mario Batali’s Molto Italiano: 327 Simple Italian Recipes To Cook At Home, I was intrigued but suspicious. I graciously allowed her to suggest using arugula instead of radicchio, so that she could feel empowered in her position as sous-chef. And it turned out very, very well. I will further modify it when I next make it, but this Batali fellow knows how to cook.
The dish itself is quite simple. Shallots, tons of thinly sliced garlic and some red pepper flakes (Batali calls for 1 teaspoon, but I think that is a bit too much) are sautéed in olive oil until golden brown, and then deglazed with lots of white wine. Then the al dente pasta (we used fresh thick spaghetti from Vitamia) is tossed into the sauté pan along with the chopped arugula, some chopped scallions and, this is the kicker, 12 ounces of lump crab meat (Mario says eight ounces, and I should have used the entire pound). Everything is tossed together until the arugula wilts, which takes just a minute or two, and then dinner is ready! I served it with grated Parmigiano Reggiano on the side, but it didn’t need much.
I was surprised by how much garlic Mario calls for in the dish, and how well it turned out. Four cloves of garlic is not a recipe for subtlety, but the garlic was well integrated and didn’t come close to overwhelming the sweetness of the crab. As I mentioned earlier, the red pepper was the only suspect, so next time I will cut it back and see how the dish turns out.