So…this happened: Epic Crab Pasta with Vodka Sauce and Garlic Breadcrumbs


Stingray is coming home from Ethiopia soon and I can tell he’s seriously hankering for some of my homemade cooking.  I thought it would be fun to drive his belly bonkers by posting this epic crab pasta with vodka sauce that I made for the family a while back. It’s a Serious Eats’ recipe for Pasta with Crab, Tomato, and Chilies and it’s a knockout. It’s a simple set of ingredients with a medium level of difficulty (you need to blend the hot tomato sauce which I find to be challenging to do without incident), and one of the few recipes I actually followed entirely. The recipe is made extra delicious with the addition of homemade garlic breadcrumbs; with these I can assure you, there will be no leftovers. I’m sorry to report (not!) that my version was made with fresh dungeness crab that Dad caught earlier in the day. Brings tears to my eyes just thinking about it. Enjoy this beauty.

Pasta with Crab, Tomato, and Chilies



  • 2 tablespoons  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
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 small red hot chili, finely sliced (optional)
  • 2 slices rustic bread, roughly torn
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh chives
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves
  • 1 pound fresh spaghetti, fettucini, or tagliatelle (dry pasta can also be used)
  • 1 pound lump or jumbo lump fresh crab meat (get the good stuff)


  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. Don’t blow up the kitchen!
  2.  Transfer mixture to a 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. Don’t burn yourself!
  3.  Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Combine bread, a garlic clove and remaining olive oil in 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 optional 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.


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