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Twilight View of Crabs Scuttling along the Beach
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Second Helpings from Union Square Cafe:
140 New Favorites from New York's Acclaimed Restaurant
by Danny Meyer and Michael Romano, 2001, HarperCollins
as an Appetizer, 4 as a Main Course
“Here’s the recipe for one of the all-time favorite pasta dishes we’ve ever
served at USC. The essential flavors of fresh crabmeat, artichokes, roasted
tomatoes, and butter would complement one another wonderfully in almost any
guise, and here they’re rolled into the fresh rings of pasta dough known as
tortelli. Clearly, it’s a labor of love to make your own tortelli from scratch,
so if time is short, use the delicious crabmeat-artichoke mixture as a topping
for spaghetti, stuffed into
cooked artichoke bottoms, or simple spread onto toasts to make crostini.”
Fresh Pasta Dough
* made with 1 1/3 cups flour,
1/2 teaspoon salt, 2 eggs, and water as needed
1 large artichoke
2 tablespoons olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon chopped shallots (about 2 shallots)
3/4 teaspoon minced garlic
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano
8 ounces fresh lump crabmeat, picked
over carefully for bits of cartilage
2 tablespoons white wine
1/2 cup semolina or cornmeal
All-purpose flour for sprinkling
3/4 cup white wine
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
* We have taken the
liberty of linking you to the fresh egg pasta recipe in our archives (from
Lidia's Italian-American Kitchen), which is very similar to Union Square Cafe's
version, rather than adding to the length of this recipe.
Prepare the pasta dough, wrap it in plastic, and let rest at room
temperature for at least 30 minutes.
2. Squeeze the lemon into a medium bowl of cold water. Snap off the
dark green leaves of the artichoke until you get to the innermost
light yellow leaves. Slice off the core to reveal the choke. Cut
set aside. Trim off all of the dark green from the base
of the artichoke and
trim the base flat. Scrape out the choke with a
small spoon and discard.
Place the trimmed base in the lemon water to prevent discoloring. Peel the
dark green skin from the stem down to
the whitish flesh and add the peeled
stem to the bowl.
3. Drain the artichoke base and stem and slice thinly. Heat 1 tablespoon
the oil in a medium skillet over medium-low heat, add the artichoke
slices to the pan, and cook until tender, but not browned, 4 to 6 minutes. Midway
through the cooking, season with 1/8 teaspoon salt and a pinch
Transfer the cooked artichoke to a cutting board and chop
4. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil to the skillet and place over
medium heat. Add the shallots and cook until softened, about 1 minute.
the garlic and cook 15 seconds. Stir in the chopped artichoke, the chopped
oven-dried tomatoes, the oregano, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and a pinch
Cook for 2 minutes, stirring to combine. Remove the pan from
the heat and
set aside 3 tablespoons of the mixture for the tomato-butter sauce. Return
the pan to the heat, add the crabmeat and stir, breaking it
up with a spoon.
Pour in the wine and cook until it has evaporated. Stir in
the parsley, 1/2
teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Transfer the mix-
ture to a bowl and
refrigerate until completely cool.
5. Sprinkle the semolina or cornmeal on a cookie sheet. Using cold water,
prepare 2 damp, not wet, kitchen towels.
6. Cut the pasta dough in half; wrap 1 half in plastic and set aside. Pass
the remaining dough half through the widest setting on a manual or electric
pasta machine onto a lightly floured surface. Decrease the setting one notch
and pass the dough through again. Decrease once again, and pass the dough
through. Fold the flattened dough into thirds, folding the two ends toward
the center, as you would fold a letter. Flatten the dough with your fingers,
return the machine to its widest setting, and pass the dough through again,
feeding one of the two open ends through the rollers. Repeat this process 5
or 6 times, lightly sprinkling the strip of dough with flour every now and
until the dough becomes silky and elastic.
7. Roll the dough through the machine on decreasing settings until just 2
notches before the finest setting. Roll the dough through this setting 3 or
4 times until you have a strip of dough that is 33 to 34 inches long and
very smooth and elastic.
8. Cut the strip of dough in half crosswise to make two 16- to 17-inch
strips. Set one strip on the floured work surface, out of your way, and
cover with one of the damp towels. Spread out the second damp towel
work surface in front of you and place the second dough strip on
Carefully brush off any flour. Cut the strip in half lengthwise, and then
times crosswise to create 10 squares, each about 2 1/2 inches square.
9. With lightly floured hands, transfer one of the squares from the towel
a clean surface, turning it over so that the damp side faces up, and
positioning the square so that one corner is pointing up, like a diamond.
Spoon a mounded teaspoon of the crabmeat and artichoke filling into the
middle of the square. Form the tortelli: Bring the bottom corner of the
square up to meet the top corner to enclose the filling in a triangular
shape. Press the edges together. Then gently lift up the left and right
the triangle and
pinch them together, twisting slightly to seal. As you finish each of the
tortelli, place it on the semolina-lined cookie sheet. Repeat
remaining filling and pasta squares to make about 35 more tortelli. The
tortelli can be made in advance. Refrigerate them for up to 1 day or freeze
for up to 2 weeks. If you do freeze them, you must also freeze the reserved
3 tablespoons of artichoke-tomato mixture, which will become
part of the
sauce. Do defrost the artichoke-tomato mixture, but don’t
the tortelli before cooking.
10. To make the sauce: Pour the wine into a 2-quart saucepan, place over
medium heat, and reduce to about 2 tablespoons. Add the butter, a few
pieces at a time, whisking constantly, until the sauce is thick and creamy.
Do not boil, or the sauce may separate. Whisk in the reserved 3 tablespoons
of artichoke-tomato mixture, salt and pepper. Remove from the heat.
11. Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot and add 2 tablespoons
salt. Add the tortelli all at once and cook until the pasta is tender, 5 to
6 minutes, or 2 minutes longer if frozen.
12. Drain the pasta well in a colander. Arrange 6 hot tortelli on each of 6
warm serving plates. Spoon equal amounts of the butter sauce over each
plate of tortelli and serve immediately.
Wine Suggestions: Try a white with floral accents like Spain’s albariño,
or a viognier from California or France.
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