02.26.11: dinner (farfalle with crab, roasted garlic, leeks and chives)


Farfalle with Crab, Roasted Garlic, Leeks and Chives

Shopping in New York, as I am wont to chronicle, is a beast of a task to do some days. Going to Fairway can be a drag–walking there is great, of course, because you’re assaulted with the aromas emanating from Dinosaur Bar-BQ as you walk down 125th St. As an added bonus, you are greeted with the cooling breezes of the Hudson (well, only in the summertime); as for this time of year the river breeze hits at you like knives. And then, after tussling about and trying not to whack innocent kids with your handbag and finding the shortest line possible (almost coming to blows at several parts of that experience) you’re welcome to walk home with a good forty pounds of groceries hanging from your person and a mile-long walk home that includes five very steep blocks uphill.


As much as I love Fairway and its selection, there are days when I’m happy to avoid having to go there, like on unexpectedly snowy or rainy weekends when Fresh Direct works in a pinch, or after a weekend of traveling. I’m also always in search of interesting markets to frequent that might alleviate the Fairway load a bit, especially if we’re going into a neighborhood that’s unfamiliar and the market in question is particularly interesting. It’s how we ended up at Essex Market a few weeks ago and, well, we were disappointed. Were it our neighborhood market rife with neighborhood color, but as a destination market it came up rather lacking. Nothing in the two butchers’ cases inspired MIchael, and even the reasonably priced produced like poblano peppers didn’t look terribly good. We ended up walking around in circles for a good half-hour and buying absolutely nothing, save for some leeks and some lemons that were on serious sale.

Making our way back home, we started to talk about what we wanted to make, and so we went to Whole Foods UWS to see what we had at our disposal. Michael wanted some steak and I wanted pasta (shocking on both counts, I know) and Michael had the rather ingenious idea to do a surf and turf night–something new to us both, I should say–once he saw the delicious crab claws on special and thought they’d be a lovely accompianment to my pasta of many onion members.

I should amend this by saying that yes–I wanted to make a pasta dish that had roasted garlic, leeks and chives in it. In my mind there is nothing wrong with this combination, and in execution it ended up tasting pretty phenomenal and not too onion-y.

Regardless, it ended up being a great original recipe that is mellow and delicious, and adding crab just gives it an extra edge of flavor. I’ll leave the turf conversation to Michael.

Farfalle with Crab, Roasted Garlic, Leeks and Chives

serves 4 as a main course and 6 as a starter

  • 6 heads of garlic
  • 3 leeks, halved, cleaned, and sliced into half-moons
  • 1 bunch chives, sliced thin (can use kitchen shears if you prefer)
  • 1 lb of crab leg clusters
  • 1 lb farfalle
  • 4 oz. cognac or brandy
  • Olive oil
  • Kosher salt and pepper

About an hour before you want to start cooking the rest of of the dish, start roasting the garlic. I used the easy instructions at Simply Recipes to roast six (yes, six) heads of the stuff, but believe me when I say that it wasn’t this all-powerful flavor. When warm enough to cool, squeeze as much of the garlic as you can into a bowl, whisk with a little olive oil and set aside.

In a heavy saute pan, heat a little more olive oil over medium heat and begin to cook the leeks, seasoning them with a little salt. When they get all brown and delicious, deglaze with a the cognac and, if you’re feeling adventurous that is, ignite the cognac using a culinary torch. Let flames die down and then return to the heat, albeit now on medium low to low.

While the leeks cook bring a large pot of water to a boil and season with salt and pepper. Add in the pasta and cook until about a minute or two less than package directions, stirring to keep pasta moving. Reserve a large cup full of cooking water (I used a tall mug) and when slightly al dente, drain and return to pot. When leeks are complete add the pasta and the roasted garlic puree to the pan, adding starchy water to help evenly coat the pasta, keeping the heat on very low just to keep the pasta warm while you tear apart the crabmeat.

The crab element is definitely a point where if you have an extra set of hands, employ them to steam the crab legs. We used Alton Brown’s method (using some chives for the dill) because it was simple and effective and really easy to do–the tough part is fishing out all of that crab meat in a quick way. Crack the legs any way you can and fish out the meat, adding it to the pasta as you go. Once you have a tidy pile of crabmeat on your pasta, toss again to coat (and add a little more water if necessary) and serve immediately in bowls, garnishing with the chives.


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