Make Café Olli’s Dungeness Crab, Green Garlic, and Meyer Lemon Pasta
f you’ve got ears on the ground in the restaurant scene, then you know that the year-old, morning-through-evening eatery Café Olli is a hot spot for all things carbs: fresh baguettes, seasonal Danishes, bomboloni doughnuts, stracciatella and anchovy pizzas, and pasta. While co-owner Siobhan Speirits is a gifted baker, that last item is a particular passion of her husband and fellow co-owner, Taylor Manning, who studied Italian cuisine during culinary school in New York, learned the ropes at a Michelin-starred restaurant on the coast of Tuscany, and then made pasta at Ava Gene’s until the pandemic hit.
Then, it was on to teaching Zoom pasta classes: why 00 flour is better than all-purpose (regular flour is too dense), and why good eggs matter (it’s the color and the flavor!). Find his pasta recipe below, if you choose to undertake the endeavor. But Manning’s got plenty of helpful tips, even if you choose to use dried pasta.
“Let’s say the cook time [on the label] is 12 minutes—I think it’s extremely important to take about two to three minutes off of that cook time. Take it out of your pot of salted water and let it finish in the sauce, and that helps everything kind of marry together. It also helps the noodle absorb a little bit of that sauce, and allows the starches that are being released in the pasta water to thicken your sauce,” he says.
At Café Olli, ingredients shift frequently as the seasons change, sometimes even weekly. This pasta makes the best of spring’s bounty: Dungeness crab, green garlic, and Meyer lemon.
“I just want the ingredients to speak for themselves. The farmers do all the hard work,” says Manning. “We just get to have fun with the produce that we’re lucky enough to get.”
Dungeness Crab, Green Garlic, Meyer Lemon & Calabrian Chile Pasta
- 1/4 lb dried spaghetti or bucatini (Manning likes Faella brand, available at Providore), or fresh pasta of your choice (see recipe, below)
- 1½ cup green garlic, thinly sliced (including tops), divided in half
- 1 cup Dungeness crab meat, cooked & picked
- ¾ cup puréed tomato sauce (preferably Bianco DiNapoli)
- 1 tsp (or to taste) Calabrian chile oil or chile flake
- 2 tbsp butter
- Zest of 2 Meyer lemons
- 1 tbsp good olive oil
- ⅓ cup reserved pasta water
- Bring a large pot of water up to a boil and season heavily with salt.
- While water is coming to a boil, sauté half the green garlic in olive oil. Be careful not to brown it, but cook until translucent. Add tomato sauce, chile oil (or chile flake), and butter. Stir and bring to a simmer, and taste for seasoning.
- Once water is boiling, add pasta, stir gently to make sure noodles don’t stick together, and cook for recommended time minus two minutes. Reserve 1/3 cup of pasta water before draining.
- Add reserved pasta water to sauce and bring back up to a simmer. Add crab and remaining green garlic. Add pasta and taste for seasoning. Continue simmering until sauce has reduced and is thick enough to glaze the noodles.
- Add olive oil and lemon zest, and mix thoroughly in the pan. Serve.
*Taylor Manning’s Fresh Pasta Recipe
Makes four 4-oz portions
- 270 g 00 flour
- 90 g semolina flour
- 6 egg yolks
- 2 whole eggs
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- Create a well with the flour mixture. Whisk olive oil, eggs, and yolks together, then pour into the center and slowly incorporate the flour with a fork. Once you have a thick paste, begin to knead the dough with your hands. If the dough is too dry and crumbling, dampen your hands under the faucet and continue working the dough until all the flour is incorporated.
- Knead the dough until it is smooth and bounces back when poked. This will take about 5–7 minutes. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and let sit at room temp for 30 minutes.
- Set a pasta roller at the widest setting. Cut off about a quarter of the dough and wrap the rest back in the plastic wrap so it doesn’t start to dry out and oxidize.
- Lightly flour work surface with semolina so dough doesn’t stick. Flatten the quarter portion of dough with the palm of your hand or a rolling pin. Start rolling dough through the machine, being careful to catch the dough as it is going through. Fold the dough over and repeat on the widest setting 3 times. This will help build gluten but also will help shape the pasta sheets to the width of your machine.
- Run dough through the machine, making sure you are going one setting thinner each time. Depending on your machine, you will stop rolling your dough out at about 1/8th inch. Cut the sheet to reach your desired noodle length and then run it through your pasta cutter at the desired width (such as spaghetti alla chitarra or tagliatelle). Catch noodles as they are coming out.
- Separate noodles into 4 oz portions and lay gently on a sheet tray dusted with semolina.
- Cook in salted boiling water for 3 minutes, or put noodles in the freezer and cook from frozen, about 4 minutes.