Pasta with Crab, Tomato, and Chilies Recipe

J. Kenji Lopez-Alt

Recipe Facts

Active: 30 mins
Total: 45 mins
Serves: 4 servings

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  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

  • 3 medium cloves garlic, minced (about 1 tablespoon)

  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

  • 1 (28-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes, drained and roughly broken up by hand

  • 1/3 cup heavy cream

  • 1/4 cup vodka

  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 small red hot chile, finely sliced

  • 2 slices rustic bread or 1 English muffin, roughly torn

  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh chives

  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley

  • 1 pound fresh spaghetti, fettucini, or tagliatelle (dry pasta can also be used)

  • 1 pound lump or jumbo lump fresh crab meat


  1. Heat butter and 2 tablespoons olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat until melted and foaming subsides. Add garlic and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant but not browned, about 1 minute. Add tomatoes and heavy cream. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly reduced, about 10 minutes. Add vodka and simmer for 4 minutes longer.

  2. Transfer mixture to jar of blender and blend on high speed until completely smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper and transfer 2 cups to a large saucepan. Reserve remaining sauce for another use.

  3. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Combine bread and remaining olive oil the the work bowl of a food processor. Process until fine crumbs are formed. Transfer to a medium skillet and cook over medium-high heat, stirring and tossing constantly until golden brown. Transfer to a small bowl. Season bread crumbs to taste with salt and pepper and add a pinch of parsley and chives. Toss to combine. Set aside.

  4. Add crab and sliced chilies to saucepan with sauce and stir to combine. Cook spaghetti in boiling salted water just until it is barely cooked through, about 2 minutes (if using dry pasta, cook according to package directions). Drain pasta, reserving 1 cup of cooking liquid. Transfer pasta to saucepan with sauce stir in remaining herbs. Heat over high heat until sauce is simmering and pasta is completely coated, adding reserved pasta water as necessary to thin sauce to desired consistency. Serve immediately, topping with bread crumbs.

Special equipment

Blender, food processor

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Nutrition Facts (per serving)
714 Calories
27g Fat
79g Carbs
37g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 714
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 27g 35%
Saturated Fat 10g 51%
Cholesterol 230mg 77%
Sodium 1037mg 45%
Total Carbohydrate 79g 29%
Dietary Fiber 3g 12%
Total Sugars 7g
Protein 37g
Vitamin C 51mg 257%
Calcium 177mg 14%
Iron 6mg 32%
Potassium 1074mg 23%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)