As I am Ligurian it was only natural to make this pasta with silverbeet," says Lucio Galletto, "following our tradition of combining ingredients of the land and the sea." As essential as Liguria is to the DNA of Lucio's, the art-laden Sydney landmark Galletto opened in Paddington in 1983, it's always been as much about front-of-house style and culture as it has the kitchen - Storrier, Olsen and Blackman are as important a part of Lucio's history as Artusi, Boni and Apicius. "Italian has come a long way in Australia," says Galletto. "All that anyone used to eat was spaghetti Bolognese." Three decades later this remains Lucio's most popular dish.
- 3 large (400gm each) uncooked blue swimmer crabs
- 80 ml extra-virgin olive oil (1/3 cup)
- 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
- 10 gm softened butter
Green pasta dough
- 200 gm silverbeet (3 medium stems), stalks discarded
- 2 eggs, at room temperature
- 260 gm plain flour, plus extra for dusting
- 400 gm canned peeled Italian tomatoes
- 60 ml extra-virgin olive oil (1/4 cup)
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- ½ Spanish onion, finely chopped
- 2 basil stalks
- 10 gm softened butter
- 1For green pasta, wash silverbeet leaves, roll up and thinly slice, then blanch until tender but still bright green (3-4 minutes). Drain and refresh in iced water, squeeze out excess water (you should have about 35gm silverbeet once squeezed firmly), then purée in a blender and combine with eggs. Sieve flour into a heap on a board or bench and make a shallow well in the centre. Pour silverbeet mixture into well, add a pinch of salt and, using a fork, incorporate flour into silverbeet a little at a time until its no longer runny. Draw the pile in towards you and work the mixture with your palms pushing outwards. Continue drawing in with the fingers and pushing out with the palms until a dough forms that’s not too dry and crumbly or too sticky (if dough seems too dry add a little warm water; if it’s sticky, dust with flour). Press dough down and away from you with the heel of your hand, forming an oval shape. Fold in half with the other hand, and give it half a turn. Repeat pressing, folding and turning in the same direction until dough is smooth and elastic and springs back when pressed (about 8 minutes). Wrap in plastic wrap and rest in a draught-free place for 20 minutes.
- 2Divide dough into 3-4 pieces and, working with a piece at a time, flatten then roll through a pasta machine, starting at the widest setting and dusting with flour as needed. Fold in half and repeat until pasta is smooth and silky, then continue rolling and folding, reducing settings notch by notch each time, until dough reaches a thickness of 1.5mm. Pass pasta sheets through the tagliolini cutters (2.5mm wide), spread on lightly floured trays and set aside while you make the sauce.
- 3For tomato sauce, pass tomatoes through a mouli or crush them with your hands, and heat olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add garlic and stir until it just starts to colour (1-2 minutes), then add onion and sauté gently until soft and translucent (5-7 minutes). Add tomatoes, basil and a pinch of salt, or to taste, and simmer until sauce thickens (20 minutes). Discard basil and add butter.
- 4Remove top shell of each crab and discard the yellow-brown tomalley. Detach and break claws and remove the meat. Remove head and discard dead man’s fingers (gills). Break or cut bodies in half lengthways and squeeze meat from leg area towards the cut. Remove pieces of shell from meat and drain meat in a colander (10 minutes).
- 5Combine olive oil and drained crabmeat in a large frying pan deep enough to hold the pasta over low-medium heat, and stir gently until half-cooked without colouring (2-3 minutes). Add garlic and stir until fragrant (2 minutes), then add tomato sauce, bring to the boil, then reduce heat to low-medium and simmer until flavours combine (2 minutes).
- 6Meanwhile, cook tagliolini in a large saucepan with plenty of boiling salted water until just al dente (1½-2½ minutes). Drain then add to crab sauce along with butter, toss gently and serve immediately.
Drink Suggestion: Crisp, dry vermentino, a grape commonly found in Liguria Drink suggestion by Max Allen
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