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~ Spaghetti w/Crab, Asparagus, Tomato & Prosciutto ~

IMG_2021Light, bright and amazingly lemony, this lusciously-decadent, not to mention rich, restaurant-quality pasta dish is easy to prepare -- and it's pitch-perfect Summer fare.  While the prosciutto-wrapped asparagus and grape tomatoes roast for ten minutes and cool for five, the pasta gets cooked and seasoned.  Toss the two together with high-quality crab claw meat, and lunch or dinner is served.  No, just say NO, walk away from hard, grated or shaved, Italian cheese, soft fresh mozzarella or creamy ricotta, and please, don't roll your eyes.  Once you savor the delicate flavors in the first forkful of crab and asparagus intermingled amongst strands of lemony pasta and shreds of salty prosciutto, you will agree -- cheese, any cheese, would be is all wrong.

From 2 to 4 servings or more, prepare no more than you plan to eat.

IMG_2015The bad news.  This is not a dish that can be made in advance, and, leftovers are definitely a compromise.  The good news.  It's so easy to make so there's no reason to care about advance preparation or leftovers.  This is a restaurant dish that I have adapted for the home kitchen.  In the restaurant kitchen, a line cook quickly sautés chards of prosciutto with sliced asparagus and whole grape tomatoes in seasoned olive oil until the prosciutto is crisping and the tomatoes are blistering.  Cooked pasta gets tossed in along with a handful of crabmeat and voila:  dinner. 

IMG_2028For 2 or 4 servings roasted prosciutto-wrapped asparagus and tomatoes:

1/2 or 1  pound thick asparagus, trimmed of woody stalk ends, about 12-24 spears after trimming

3 or 6  thin slices prosciutto, each sliced into 4 long strips 

12-16 or 24-32 grape tomatoes 

3 or 6  tablespoons high-quality lemon-infused olive oil

fresh-ground sea salt, 20-25 or 40-50 grinds

fresh-ground black or peppercorn blend, 20-25 or 40-50 grinds 

IMG_1978For 2 or 4 servings thick spaghetti and crabmeat:

8 or 16  ounces thick spaghetti

3 or 6  tablespoons salted butter

2 or 4  tablespoons lemon-infused olive oil

1/2-1  teaspoon garlic powder

1/4-1/2  teaspoon red pepper flakes

8-12 or 16-24  ounces high-quality pasteurized crab claw meat, the best available

IMG_1913 IMG_1913 IMG_1913 IMG_1913 IMG_1913 IMG_1913~Step 1. Line a 12 1/2" x 8 3/4" baking pan with aluminum foil.  Arrange asparagus, side by side, slightly apart and in a single layer on pan.  Wind half or all spears with one long thin strip of prosciutto each -- I do half because prosciutto is salty and too much can be overwhelming, but it's your choice.  Add the grape tomatoes to the sides of pan (separate from the asparagus).  Drizzle 3-4 tablespoons lemon-infused olive oil over all.  Using a pastry brush, lightly paint and dab the olive oil between and across the surface of the spears, and the tomatoes.  Season generously with freshly ground sea salt and pepper.

IMG_1934 IMG_1934~ Step 2.  Roast on center rack of preheated 425º oven or toaster oven for 9-10 minutes.  Asparagus will be fork tender and tomatoes will be soft and blistered. Remove from oven and set baking pan aside to cool to the touch, about 5 minutes.

IMG_1982 IMG_1982 IMG_1982 IMG_1982 IMG_1982 IMG_1982 IMG_1982 ~Step 3.  To cook the pasta, in a 4- or 8-quart stockpot bring 3 or 5 quarts of water to a boil over high heat, then add 1 or 2 tablespoons sea salt to the boiling water.  Add the thick spaghetti and cook until al dente, 11-13 minutes.  Drain spaghetti into a colander.  Do not rinse.  Return steaming-hot pasta to still warm stovetop.  Add the salted butter, lemon-infused olive oil, garlic powder and red pepper flakes. Using two spoons or two forks, toss as you would a salad until pasta is evenly coated in melted butter.  Add the crab claw meat to the top and cover the pot -- do not toss at this time.

IMG_1960 IMG_1960 IMG_1960 IMG_1960 IMG_1960~Step 4.  Transfer the warm-to-the-touch asparagus to a cutting board. Using a serrated knife, remove the tender asparagus tips and set aside to use as garnish.  Holding the knife at an angle and using a light touch, gently slice, to produce very-thin pieces of asparagus and chards of prosciutto.  Transfer tomatoes to board and slice into halves or quarters.

IMG_2001~Step 5.  Add the thinly-sliced asparagus spears, chards of roasted prosciutto and grape tomato pieces to the crab and spaghetti.  Using two forks or two spoons, toss like you would a salad, until just combined. Portion into warm serving bowls and serve topped with a sprinkling of freshly-ground sea salt and garnished with a few tender asparagus tips.

Gently toss, portion into bowls, garnish, serve & eat: 

IMG_2016Spaghetti w/Crab, Asparagus, Tomato & Prosciutto:  Recipe yields 2-4 rich and hearty servings.

Special Equipment List: 12 1/2" x 8 3/4" or 17 1/2" x 12 1/2" baking pan; aluminum foil; pastry brush; cutting board; serrated bread knife; wide-bottomed 4- or 8-quart stockpot w/lid; colander

IMG_1895Cook's Note:  When it comes to cooking asparagus via any method, freshness always matters more than thickness, and, even the best asparagus recipes are subject to failure if this delicate vegetable isn't treated with care. ~ Choosing, Prepping and Storing Amazing Asparagus ~ is a must read for anyone who's looking to get acquainted with this seasonal but very versatile vegetable.

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2019)


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