Dungeness Crab Lemon Basil Pasta

by Alice Currah on July 29, 2010. Updated November 15, 2010

Fact: I will eat just about any food but my favorite dishes are usually simple to prepare, fresh in flavor, and can be made very quickly. Cooking for me is about being flexible, creative, and resourceful. And I can’t help but be a little proud of myself when I make something so deliciously good with such little amount of effort.

For instance, today’s pasta dish was inspired by Aglio E Olio (warm olive oil and garlic pasta), the bounty of summer cherry tomatoes, fresh basil growing in a tiny plastic pot next to the kitchen window,, and fresh lump Dungeness crab meat to top it all off. The addition of fresh lemon juice brightens everything perfectly. We now have a light summer dinner meal bursting with flavor to delight the palette as well as the stomach. Even the kids in our neighborhood loved this pasta dish and I think you will too. I’ve written the recipe as a guide but by all means, feel free to adjust the recipe to your liking. Enjoy!

Dungeness Crab Lemon Basil Pasta

Serves 3-4


1 lb package of spaghetti

1/3 cup olive oil

2 tablespoons butter

6-8 cloves chopped garlic

½ cup fresh basil, chopped

1 cup cherry tomatoes

pinch of salt and pepper

½ fresh Dungeness crab meat (substitute with pre-cooked shrimp/prawns)

1 lemon, quartered


Cook spaghetti in salted water until al dente (tender but firm).  Drain pasta and set aside.  Add olive oil and butter to a medium sauce pan on medium high heat until butter has melted.  Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds to soften them up.  Remove pan from heat.  Add pasta noodles to the pan and toss the spaghetti until each strand has been coated with the garlic sauce.  Add tomatoes, chopped basil, salt, pepper and gently toss.  Divide the crab meat according to how many servings you are making.  Place the individual portion of the lump meat and place it on top of each mound of spaghetti.  Squeeze one lemon quarter over the top of the crab meat and pasta just before serving.  Enjoy!

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{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

Kelly @ EvilShenanigans July 29, 2010 at 10:16 am

That looks lovely, fresh, and very summery! I think it would also be good with shrimp, which I always have on hand. Yum!


Heather (Heather's Dish) July 29, 2010 at 10:01 am

i can only imagine how beautifully fragrant this dish is! how expensive is the dungeness where you are? do you know if there would be a good substitute for it?



alice July 29, 2010 at 10:07 am

Hi Heather,
Dungeness crab meat is expensive. It’s about $30/lb here but here’s the deal. The way I look at this is. The cost to make this per person is about $5-6/serving with the crab meat. If I were to order this at a restaurant, I would guess you would pay at least triple because of the crab. So if you love crab, making this dish at home would be worth it. I’ve made it three times in the last 2 weeks because we love it so much and it’s a fuss free meal to make. You could easily substitute shrimp or omit the crab altogether. Hope this helps!

PS: Whatever you do, do no used canned crab meat. Canned crab is suitable for soups but not for this pasta dish where the crab is the key ingredient.


Jessica @ How Sweet July 29, 2010 at 10:04 am

I don’t know if I can find dunganess crab around here, but I would love to try this with some high quality crab meat!


G. July 29, 2010 at 10:16 am

This looks absolutely amazing…maybe even better than the banana split ice cream cake. It’s very close. :)


Nicole @cookingafterfive July 29, 2010 at 10:23 am

This pasta looks beautiful! Love the idea of using crab with lemon and basil.


Kathy in Greendale July 29, 2010 at 10:48 am

I love that this dish is light…not swimming in a heavy cream sauce. I’m going to make it with whole wheat pasta for myself, regular pasta for the rest of the family.


Amy from She Wears Many Hats July 29, 2010 at 11:34 am

Alice these shots are beautiful – love the lighting! Plus it sounds like a delicious dish. Nothing like a simple pasta to end the day with.


Eliana July 29, 2010 at 11:35 am

Love an easy pasta dish. This one looks packed with flavor and perfect for summer.


Charmaine July 29, 2010 at 11:45 am

Okay, that was just ridiculously simple! Sounds like the perfect meal this Sunday.


Vanessa July 29, 2010 at 1:32 pm

This looks great. I can’t wait to try it! I just came back from Whole Foods and they had fresh Dungeness Crab for $5/lb ( might have been previously frozen though. I didn’t look that closely)


mia July 29, 2010 at 5:48 pm

Oh, you’re killin’ me. But i order the Phillips crab cakes off QVC. SO YUMMY and can’t beat the price. AT least i can’t *grin*. Maybe I’ll go make one now :)


SweetandSaltySea July 29, 2010 at 9:07 pm

This looks absolutely delicious! I will have to try it with gluten-free pasta! :)


Kath July 30, 2010 at 8:33 am

That looks like the perfect summer pasta! And i like the way you think about the cost of the crab! 8)


Jessica July 30, 2010 at 9:03 am

That looks fantastic!
And your photos are STUNNING!!


bobbinis-kitchen.com July 31, 2010 at 6:07 am

Delicious pasta recipe! Thank you for sharing.
Think we will use red swamp crayfish instead.



Tracey August 2, 2010 at 9:07 am

Oh, I so want to eat this pasta right now!


Evie August 3, 2010 at 6:18 am

I’m with you! The simpler, the better. This looks wonderous.


Melanie August 3, 2010 at 6:15 pm

Wow. This looks delicious. I’m adding it to next week’s menu.


Allison August 4, 2010 at 1:13 pm

Holy wow! I don’t often splurge on pasta dishes, but this one looks amazing! I may just have to go for it!


justcooknyc August 8, 2010 at 3:11 pm

i make a lemony-basil shrimp pasta in the summer a lot, but this could be even better


Chris August 9, 2010 at 8:45 am

Headed to stay at the beach next week with our kids and both sets of grandparents. THIS is going to be perfect!


Aimee @ Simple Bites August 9, 2010 at 7:06 pm

OK, here’s the plan. My birthday is next week. I can splurge on a little (a lot!) crab, since I’m planning on eating in anyway.

Can I wait until then? Not sure.

Thanks for a kickin’ recipe!!


Kristina @ spabettie August 30, 2010 at 9:34 am

this looks amazing – I cannot wait to try – I will be looking for crab today at the market. :)


michele November 11, 2011 at 5:38 pm

came across your recipe on pinterest, just made this tonight & it was FABULOUS! so simple, so fresh, it will be a regular at my house, thanks!


Raven Chelanee May 13, 2012 at 9:42 pm

I love the addition of tomatoes. Going to try this one very soon over my go to crab pasta recipe: http://www.cookeatdelicious.com/seafood-recipes/crab-recipes/crab-pasta-recipe.html



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