I always think of fennel as a very early glimpse of Spring. Although it can be a winter veg, its fresh, vibrant green colour always makes me think of sunnier days. Which is why I always think this recipe makes such a perfect Christmas treat. Really good crabmeat isn’t cheap but you don’t need a huge amount to make this really delicious and luxurious, simple dish and it is a whole lot cheaper than having it in a restaurant.
Crab and Fennel Linguini
300g dried linguine, or fresh pasta dough equivalent
300g white crabmeat
1 bulb of fennel
1 fresh red chilli
Extra extra virgin olive oil
1 handful of herby fennel tops or fresh baby basil leaves or dill
Place the white crabmeat in a large bowl and add the zest and juice from the lemon. Remove the seeds from the chilli, finely chop and add. Trim the base of the bulb and remove the outside layer if it’s got any blemishes, then, using the coarse side of a box grater, grate the bulb into the bowl with the crab. Add a couple of tablespoons of really good, extra virgin olive oil, mix well and season to taste.
Put a large pan of salted water onto boil for the pasta. Cook according to packet instructions. Finely chop any fennel fronds, basil leaves or dill. Drain the pasta, reserving a cupful of cooking water, then toss the pasta through the sauce, adding half the picked herbs and loosening with a splash of reserved water, if needed. Divide between four warm bowls, sprinkle over the remaining herbs.