A Modified Batali Pasta Recipe That Was Great!

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.

3 Replies to “A Modified Batali Pasta Recipe That Was Great!”

  1. cheese with seafood? mario would not approve. i, however, think his position on that is a bit ridiculous. perhaps he’s overstating it for added impact, but the fact that an absolute like this has come out of his mouth surprises me.

  2. Maybe the red pepper was too much because of the switch from radicchio to arugula. The former is mostly bitter when cooked, the latter can be spicy. Cooked radicchio also has more mouth feel, more moisture and more complexity overall. That amount of garlic seems almost tame in a recipe like this. Have you found any hard-neck yet this year?
    I could see where the cheese would help out in this switch. Sounds good, even w/o the crab.

  3. The switch’s effect on the other ingredients never occurred to me, mostly because…I Am Not A Chef! That is the kind of calculation that I find extremely difficult, but when it is explained after the fact, seems obvious.

    I thought the arugula was mild in the context of the dish, probably because of the red pepper. As for the garlic? I thought it was great! I wonder if slicing it thin rather than mincing it had any effect on the flavor? And no, I haven’t found any hard-neck. And I am irritated. I just made Mussels Mariniere, and the garlic I used was half rotten.

    The cheese was a nice addition, but I used very little. And Batali is a loon when it comes to cheese and seafood. How about that classic — scallop risotto with sweet peas? I wouldn’t dream of eating it without some great Parmigiano Reggiano.

    One of the things that a friend of ours has shown us is that combinations are not obvious. I would never make potatoes, chestnuts and sausage in the same dish, yet I recall a wonderful meal with just that combination.

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