Spring Meets Summer: Pasta con Granchio e Finocchio (Pasta w/ Crab and Fennel)

Pasta with Crab and Fennel

This dish was so easy, I could have cried as I cut my onions. I had a hankering for fresh crab and, because it was a weeknight, I saved time and energy by purchasing already shelled crab (not to ever be confused with something that makes me want to gag called krab).   This dish actually raised my mood from not-too-hot (about a 3 on a scale from 1 to 10) to feeling incredibly good (a good 9/9.5).  Sometimes a good dinner can just do that.  The lemon brightened the finished product up, the fennel gave it a bit of crunch and sweetness.  Crab and fresh cherry tomatoes always remind me of warm summer days which, naturally, make me smile.

Pasta with Crab and Fennel

If we had any leftovers I would’ve loved to have tasted it cold. I actually think it could make a great may0-less pasta salad.  You could also chop up some sauteed softshell crabs and use them instead of the fresh crab.  Maybe I’ll wait for a real summer day to give that a try.  Until then, I urge you to give this a try!


  • 1 lb of pasta, your choice
  • 2/3 cup of extra virgin olive oil (use a bit less if you prefer, i like to taste my oil)
  • 6 cloves of garlic, minced (again, use less if you’re not a huge garlic lover)
  • 1 teaspoon peperoncino
  • 1/2 fennel bulb, sliced
  • 1/2 onion, sliced
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes (about 2 cups)
  • 2 cups fresh lump crab meat
  • juice of one lemon
  • salt and pepper
  • fennel fronds and/or fresh basil, chopped

What to do:

  1. Add the minced garlic (minus the reserved 1 tablespoon), a pinch of peperoncino and olive oil to a pan.  Slowly heat it on low (or medium low) to infuse the oil with the flavors of the garlic.  I usually allow it to lowly and gently warm for about a half hour.  (NOTE: **You can also take a short-cut and skip to Step 3 if you  choose to.  The longer way takes more time, but the flavor intensifies if you give the oil time to gently warm.)
  2. Boil salted water for your pasta. Cook pasta.
  3. While pasta is cooking, in a new pan, add a few tablespoons of the infused oil and saute the fennel and onion and tomatoes for a minute or two on medium heat.  Add the garlic and peperoncino-infused oil to the pan and allow the garlic to get some color and is lightly browned.  Kill the heat until the pasta is ready.
  4. When pasta is done, turn heat back on low, and add it to the oil mixture.  Toss in the crab meat and lemon juice.  Toss pasta. Add some salt and pepper to taste.  Toss again.  Plate up and sprinkle some chopped fennel fronds or basil on top (or fry up some slices of leeks if you feel like being fancy).  Enjoy!

36 thoughts on “Spring Meets Summer: Pasta con Granchio e Finocchio (Pasta w/ Crab and Fennel)

  1. Mmm…fennel and pasta. Great combo. I just bought soft shell crabs for the first time today. They’re a little hard to find in my neighborhood. I’ve been contemplating just what I should do with them. Perhaps nice pasta dish like this one. Hubby loves pasta.

    1. hey rachel! we have a few softshell recipes on the blog – go to the search box and type it in – a few will pop up. my fave is sauteed… enjoy!

  2. i actually put it in the last step of the recipe – it’s fried leeks. mmmmm.delicious and crispy!you’ve gotta good eye there, joan nova!

  3. Just right for now! & what a great thing for a backyard party. I have been planning to use fennel in pasta for sometime now. .. am inspired now:-)

    1. there is a time and a place – esp. if you grew up w/ it. my aunt claire still makes the best pasta salad – with mayo!!!

  4. I love how a good meal can quickly brighten up your mood and make you feel so much better. Of course I have found the opposite to be true where a bad meal can completely ruin a night and cause me to stare at the plate wondering why dear god why did this dish go south.

    I had to chuckle at the Krab too because in the midwest some people actually think that is crab. I feel sad on the inside now……

    Looks and sounds awesome!

    1. hmmm, not sure if it’s popular? maybe? i’ve been buying it for a few years now because i LOVE the texture. you just feel like you’re eating a bit more pasta. plus it holds chunky sauce well. maybe we were able to get it early being in nyc and now it’s available all over? it should be popular! it’s awesome.

  5. OK – since you brought up soft-shell crabs, I want to make you proud and tell you that I had my first one a couple of weeks ago. Ever since your awesome post on soft-shell crabs, I vowed to get over my squeamishness and try one. After a couple of glasses of sake at my favorite sushi bar, I ordered one (hey – I never said I could do this without some liquid courage). As the Monkeys sang, “..AND NOW I’M A BELIEVER!!’ My daughter even tried it, so now through your encouragement and support you have not one, but two, new disciples! Thank you, Jonny and Amy the all mighty Foodie Gods, for leading me down the path of enlightenment!

    1. Jen… so, so proud. Thank you for letting us know you’re a believer! i think it’s true that we still need to test our tastebuds as adults, especially if it comes to soft shells! go you…

  6. the picture is suitable for mat and frame! Beautiful! what a great dish and it’s easy…(so very important for Auntie L). We will enjoy this on the patio and raise a glass of Pinot to toast you two! Auntie L

Like this post? Hate this post? Let us know!