Crab and pasta is not a new concept. In fact, I think there are recipes in at least three of my cookbooks for some form of crab linguine. From Nigella Summer to the River Cafe Cookbook there is some combination of crab meat, pasta, chilli and lemon. The flavours are great together and it is a fresh light dish. Have a look at Felicity Cloake’s excellent ‘Perfect’ column for her take on these recipes. Karen from Kenmare Foodie also shared a recipe for this.
While these recipes are great and make a fast delicious midweek meal, I do like a nice ravioli. For this reason I have taken the flavours and made this Crab Ravioli with Lemon Butter Sauce. Making your own pasta is really not as daunting as you might think. There is something therapeutic about kneading the dough and rolling it through the pasta machine. However if you have never done it I can understand that it might seem like a mammoth task. My own pasta machine lay idle for several months before I was brave enough to even take it out of the box!
If you don’t fancy making the dough, you can buy ready made dough or pasta sheets from good Italian delis. Sometimes they are thicker than what you want here so just roll them a bit thinner, use a rolling pin if you don’t have a machine. I was a bit stumped for a while for what to use as the crispy element in the dish, playing with the idea of pine nuts, but then saw a contestant on this years Masterchef top his delicate pea tortellini with crispy breadcrumbs and kicked myself for not thinking of it sooner. This “Poor Man’s Parmesan” has been used to top Italian dishes for years.
Useful tips & links:
- The general rule when making pasta dough is to use 1 egg per 100g of flour. I used 2 egg yolks in place of an egg here to give a richer flavour and colour to the pasta.
- Many pasta recipes include salt in the dough but we were taught at Leiths not to use it as it can dry out the dough and cause grey patches in the dough. You will be cooking the pasta in salted water and adding salt with other ingredients so it will not be missed.
- The pasta dough can be kept in the fridge for a few days or even frozen if you want to make a big batch of it. Make sure to have it at room temperature before attempting to roll it out. You can assemble the ravioli and store them in the fridge for several hours. If you want to freeze them make sure to use crab that has not been previously frozen.
- I have used chives here to add flavour but sage leaves can be used, allow them to crisp up in the butter sauce. You can add grated lemon zest to the crispy breadcrumbs if you want more of a lemon flavour.
- If you want more guidance on making pasta dough have a look at Leiths instructions here.
- For more inspiration have a look at Conor’s gorgeous looking Crab Carbonara or I have more recipes using crab here.
Crab Ravioli with Lemon Butter Sauce
Serves 2 generously, more as a starter
For the pasta:
- 200g of ’00’ pasta flour, plus extra for kneading
- 1 large egg
- 2 large egg yolks
- Semolina flour for the baking sheet
For the filling and sauce:
- 200g of cooked white crabmeat
- 2 tablespoons of crème fraiche
- The zest of 1 unwaxed lemon
- 2 teaspoons of chopped chives
- ½ a medium red chilli very finely chopped, plus extra to garnish
- Salt and pepper
- 100g of butter
- The juice of ½ a lemon
- A clove of garlic
- 1 teaspoon of chives
- 1 tablespoon of olive oil
- 10g of panko breadcrumbs
For the pasta:
- Start by making your pasta to allow time for it to rest. Sieve the flour onto a large clean work surface. Make a deep well in the middle of the flour and break in the egg and egg yolks. Gently whisk the eggs with a fork and gradually start incorporating the flour in from the sides.
- Then using your fingers keep mixing the eggs and drawing in the flour until most of it is combined and becomes a dough. The eggs may not take all of the flour and that is ok. It is better to have to add flour afterwards than to have a dough that is too dry. If it is too dry add a tiny bit of olive oil or the egg white until it is manageable again.
- Knead the dough for 10-15 minutes until it becomes smooth and elastic. The method I use for kneading is to push the dough away with the heal of one hand at a 45 degree angle and draw it back with my fingers. Then repeat with the other hand in the opposite direction so that you are working in a ‘v’ shape.
- Once the pasta is smooth wrap it in cling film to rest at room temperature for at least 30 minutes and up to 2 hours. If you are making it further in advance, rest it in the fridge and bring it to room temperature for 30 minutes before using.
For the filling and assembling the pasta:
- Drain and pick through the crab meat to make sure there is no shell in there. In a bowl, mix it with the crème fraiche, lemon zest, chilli, chives and season with a little salt and pepper. Taste the mixture and add more seasoning or other flavourings to your own taste, but remember you will be topping the pasta with a salty buttery sauce.
- Next roll out your pasta dough. Cut the dough into 2 portions and wrap one back up in the cling film so it doesn’t dry out. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and dust some semolina flour on top. Have extra cling film or a damp clean tea towel ready to cover the ravioli while you assemble them, again so they don’t dry out.
- Dust your work surface with some semolina and give the dough a quick knead to loosen it again. Pat it into a flat rectangle and then work it through your pasta machine at it’s widest setting. Fold the rolled dough into thirds as if you were folding a letter into a neat rectangle and work it through the widest setting of the machine twice more until it goes through easily and becomes elastic.
- Change the setting on the pasta rollers to the next setting and roll the pasta through again. Feed the pasta through twice at each setting until the pasta is thin enough so that you can see your hand though it. Go as thin as you are comfortable with, remembering that you don’t want it too thick as there will be two layers of pasta and you don’t want it thick and stodgy, but also it needs to be thick enough to hold the filling without falling apart. I go to the second last setting, no. 2 on my Imperia machine.
- Cut the thin sheet of pasta in half and place one on the baking sheet and cover with the cling film. Lay out the other piece and spoon teaspoon-full amounts of the filling on to the pasta. Leave enough space between the filling so that there is room to cut out the ravioli easily, this will depend on the size of the cutter you are using.
- Using your finger or a pastry brush, brush a little water around each portion of the filling. Then take the second sheet of pasta from the baking sheet and lay it gently on top. Start from the middle of the sheet and gently press around the filling to seal the two layers of pasta, making sure that there are no air bubbles. They will cause the pasta to burst open when you are cooking it.
- Cut the ravioli using either a pastry cutter or a knife. Gently press the edges again to make sure they are sealed and place on the baking sheet and cover with the cling film or damp tea towel.
- Repeat with the remaining pasta and filling. Keep the assembled ravioli covered until ready to cook. Put a large pot of salted water on to boil.
- Next make the lemon butter sauce and crisp the breadcrumbs. Peel the garlic and lightly bash it but keep it in one piece. Heat the butter with the garlic in a small pan until melted and beginning to turn a light golden brown colour. You will get a nutty smell from the butter and keep a close eye on it as the milk solids will go from browned to burnt in no time! Once it is a light golden colour, take it off the heat and add in the lemon juice. It will splutter when you add the lemon so be careful. Taste and add more lemon if needed.
- Heat the oil in a small non stick pan and fry the breadcrumbs until they are golden brown. Tip them out to drain on some kitchen paper. Season with a little salt and pepper.
- When the pot of water is boiling add the ravioli and cook for 2-4 minutes until the pasta is tender. How long they take to cook depends on how thick the pasta is. Mine were ready in just under 3 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to gently remove the ravioli and plate them up. Spoon over a little of the butter sauce, scatter over the chopped chives and chilli and top with some of the crunchy breadcrumbs. Serve immediately.