I have followed Frances Mayes since I read that first chapter in ‘Under The Tuscan Sun’ in 1996. Her incredible writings transport you to hills of Tuscany (and beyond) as if you were harvesting olives or sipping wine or preparing dinner alongside she and her lovely cast of family and friends. I have read and re-read her books earmarking recipes that I then re-create at home. I was so very excited to hear that she was publishing a cookbook compiling her favorite Tuscan recipes. I immediately signed up for pre-order on Amazon and waited patiently until it published. I anxiously tore open the box the minute I heard the delivery man drop the package at the door. I was not to be disappointed. How could you not love a cookbook that begins with a dedication ‘This book is one long toast, cin-cin, to near and dear Tuscan friends…..’. I have lazily thumbed through its pages a few times this weekend and the book is now awash in little sticky flags waiting for the day when I turn to its page, apron and wooden spoon in hand. The book is beautifully written; the photos of the people, food and landscape are incredible and throughout Frances weaves stories of her life in Tuscany. (And mama mia, be sure to note the hunky Italian guy on page 33 holding a handful of olives! 🙂 ). This is definitely a book to which I will return time and time again.
We are starting a new feature over here at Our Italian Table….our bookshelf. Along with the recipes we have cooked up ourselves, we will feature those that we whip up from our favorite Italian books. Many books we have had for years and years (like the torn and dog-eared copy of ‘The Classic Italian Cook Book’ by Marcella Hazan that was my mothers); others are newcomers to our shelves. We hope to continue to inspire you to enjoy the simple pleasure of cooking and eating with those you love and enjoy a bit of our Italian adventures along the way. So tonite to highlight our new feature, I made Frances’ Spaghetti with Lemon and Crab. Simple, sunny and sublime – a perfect weekday meal for one of our first warm days of the year. I served with a simple avocado salad and a crisp white wine. Simple pleasures indeed.
Happy spring, tutti. And Frances, I thank you for a wonderful cookbook – cin-cin!
Spaghetti with Lemon and Crab
Michele’s note: In a side bar, Frances addresses the use of cheese and seafood in the same recipe – an Italian culinary transgression which may elicit gasps of disbelief from Italian culinary purists. I, like Frances, do sprinkle the occasional seafood dish with cheese (when no one is looking of course). In my opinion, the flavor of the Parmigiano blends beautifully with the bite of the lemon and silkiness of the crab. Go for it but be prepared for an earful if nonna happens to be near.
From: The Tuscan Sun Cookbook; Frances Mayes and Edward Mayes
Serves 4 to 6
1 pound spaghetti
1 pound crabmeat
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup white wine
1/2 cup lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup (2 ounces) grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1/2 cup flat-leaft parsley, chopped
Bring the pasta water to a boil, salt it, and add the pasta.
While the pasta cooks, add the crabmeat to the olive oil in a large skillet over low heat, and just warm it briefly. Add the wine, bring it quickly to a boil, and immediately turn the heat to low. Stir in the lemon juice and seasonings.
Drain the pasta, reserving 1/2 cup of pasta water. Pour the pasta into the pan with the crab. Toss in 1/4 cup of the Parmigiano and the parsley. If the pasta needs more liquid, add a little of the reserved pasta water. Serve in bowls, sprinkling the remaining Parmigiano on top.