Crab linguine

Succulent crab meat blended with peppery watercress create this English seaside version of a River Café classic, from Nigella Lawson
By Nigella Lawson
Crab linguine
  • Rating:
  • Serves: 6 as a starter; 4 as a main course
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Effort: easy



  • 2 clove garlic
  • 1 tbsp sea salt
  • 1 large red chilli
  • 1.25 kg crab, undressed, to give you 200g white meat and 100g brown meat
  • 125 ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 lemons, juice and zest
  • 500 g linguine
  • 1 handfuls parsley, fresh, chopped
  • 1 handfuls leaves watercress, roughly torn

Tips and Suggestions

You know, I'd eaten this a couple of times and made it myself (throwing in handfuls of peppery watercress as I did so) a few more before I realised it was, give or take, the River Café's recipe - by which I mean to say that although the amounts and full list of ingredients vary, it is an English seaside version of their fabulous original. I suppose that's how you know something's become a classic: it just seeps its way into the culinary language.

Crab is, I think, hugely underrated - so much better than lobster, and much cheaper. You can use frozen crab meat for this, but it's best to get a fishmonger to cook and pick out the meat for you.

Don't let the fact that a pestle and mortar is indicated put you off: this is fabulously easy to make.


1. Put a large pan of water on to boil for the pasta.

2. In a large pestle and mortar pulverise the peeled garlic cloves with the salt, so that it makes a smooth paste. Then add the chopped and seeded chilli and crush again until you have a gloriously red-tinged mixture.

3. Tip in the crab meat, breaking it up gently with a fork, and pour in the oil. Add the lemon zest to the mortar and then add the juice. Using a fork, beat well to mix

4. Cook your pasta, drain it and tip into a warmed serving bowl.

5. Immediately pour over the crab sauce and toss the pasta about in it, then throw in the parsley and watercress and toss again.

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