Recipes from authentic Italian women: Spaghetti with Dungeness Crab from Serenella

Spaghetti with Dungeness crab (printable version)

ChristmasEve08_002.jpgMy grandparents’ first stay in the San Francisco area was between 1912 and 1919. During this time, they were befriended by many other Italian-American families. My grandmother Nonna Assida, who was a wonderful cook and later ran her own restaurant, learned to make spaghetti with Dungeness crab from the wives of Sicilian fisherman.

This dish soon became my family’s traditional Christmas Eve pasta- a tradition that continues to this day. We serve the pasta as the first plate or primo and serve the cooked crab as a main course with a side dish or salad.

For this dish it is important to have the freshest possible crab. Buon appetito!


  • One large red onion finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • (1) hot chili pepper, sliced or Chile pepper flakes (according to taste)
  • 1/2 glass red wine
  • 1 large can whole peeled tomatoes, crushed or chopped
  • 2 large (2 1/2 pounds each) very fresh Dungeness crabs, preferably live. Clean and break the crab into pieces (or have the store do this for you). The crab should be all broken apart. For example the claws should be in separate pieces. Crack the pieces of crab with a crab or nut cracker.

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Recipes from Authentic Italian Women – Tuscan Comfort Foods

My  friend Ambra (see previous article) sent these recipe for a classic dishes of Tuscan comfort food.  The first is called Matuffi or Pallette. With a base made from polenta flour, these matuffi are truly stick-to-your-ribs kind of food! Next is Zuppa Casalinga or home-style vegetable and bean soup. The last is  another classic winter polenta-based soup.

Matuffi or Pallette

This is a typical dish of Viareggio & Province of Lucca- There are many versions of this recipe. This recipe can be made richer and heartier by adding 2 sausages and a handful of mushrooms (or soaked dry porcini mushrooms) to the sauce.  Printable Version

Note from Serenella: Definitely better with the sausage and mushrooms!
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The best Italian restaurants of 2009 – Tuscany and Lombardy top the list

For those of you who love Tuscan food or are lucky enough to be going to Tuscany soon, here is the latest restaurant news: One of the most important Italian Restaurant Guides, ‘Guida ai ristoranti d’Italia’ published by l’Espresso has just been released. This guide includes 2800 restaurants and eating places throughout Italy (from the most simple to the most elaborate) plus all different types of cuisine (from minimalist or baroque to traditional or experimental).  The common thread for this overview of outstanding cuisine in Italy is the best utilization of fresh, local ingredients.The restaurants are judged on both cuisine and service.
There are many great chefs working in all the different regions of Italy, including those in Campania and Lazio where there is currently much culinary buzz.  The two regions that now have the most “Three chef’s toque hats” (top score) are Lombardy and Tuscany.
Tuscans are famous for using the freshest of ingredients cooked in simple ways to bring out the natural flavors of the food.  You may be surprised to know that each city, town or village in Tuscany has their own unique food specialties. You will find some of the best representations of these local dishes in the top restaurants.  Read more