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Spicy Crab Spaghetti with Lemon & Asparagus


Let me first say that this recipe is truly inspired by one of my family’s favorite restaurants, Ciao Bella in Minnesota. This recipe is also coming from a place of nostalgia, as my parents are moving out of Minnesota now and are selling the house I grew up in. I was in town recently, and on Friday, August 13th (poetic, isn’t it?), I left that house for the very last time.

I spent most of my life in that house, it held a lot of memories. In some way, I feel as though we are betraying it. Selling it to someone else, not knowing anything about them or why they want it or what they will do with it. Will they take care of the woods that surround it? Some of those trees are over 100 years old. Animals, like deer, foxes, turkeys (annoyingly enough), coyotes, owls, and hawks live in the midst of all those trees.

I realize that I have zero, truly zero, amount of say in all of this – it’s not mine to have a say in. If the man that wants to buy the house wants to tear it down and the woods with it – I can’t do anything to stop it. The gravity of being so powerless against something I care so much about, is what’s truly debilitating.

Traveling to come back home

I’ve lived in a ton of places – a different place nearly every year of my life (sometimes more than 1 within a year, and often in different states) since I was 18. I’m 28, almost 29 now. I suppose I always travelled and lived other places so that I could come back home. I love the feeling of going back home, I notice things I had gotten used to seeing or hearing. And that home is the only home I had. Traveling and moving never bothered me a lot, and it may sound cold-hearted, but I never missed where I’ve lived before. Whenever I moved I was ready to go and move on to the next thing.

This time is different though. My husband’s family still lives in Minnesota, so we will be back, but I won’t be going home. When we made the choice to move from Minnesota to Florida, it didn’t seem like such a big deal because home would always be there. I could always go back and get my comforting fix. I’ll forever miss the sound of the wind in the trees, and the constant chirping and squawking of birds and turkeys. I’ll miss the kitchen in that house – the best kitchen I’ve ever been in, with big windows, tons of counter space, and a 6-top gas range with a griddle to match. It’s where I learned to love to cook.

My Own Spicy Crab Spaghetti

On nights when we would get take-out as a family, we often chose Ciao Bella. A local, family-run Italian restaurant. In the summer, they put Spicy Crab Spaghetti on the menu. It was my mom’s favorite. She often asked me to try and make our own version of it. I remember often ordering this, and then my family and I would sit out on the back deck as the sun was setting and enjoy the company, the food, and the serene atmosphere. Perhaps that’s what I’ll most about that house.

One of the last couple trips I took to Minnesota, my mom asked me to make Spicy Crab Spaghetti for her. I took her up on the challenge and this recipe is the same recipe as that night. I will always associate this recipe with cooking in that kitchen with her.

How to get your spicy crab spaghetti “creamy”

This spaghetti should look creamy, but there isn’t any cream added to it. The key is to add the butter in at the end so that it melts but doesn’t get so hot it separates. If you notice it separating, try adding in an ice cube or two and stirring it around. The cooler melting water will help bring back the emulsion. If you need more of a sauce, add some of the reserved cooking liquid in at the end, once the pasta is mixed in with everything. The starch from the pasta and the water shouldn’t break your butter emulsion.

As Spicy as You Like

If you like spicy, I like to add some fresnos to this recipe. You can pickle them as well with my classic pickling recipe and they’re great for salads. If you’d like to stay on the tamer side of spicy, you can simply use red pepper flakes lightly sprinkled throughout the dish.

If you make this dish, please comment below or rate it! And if you take photos, please tag me on instagram! I love seeing the photos of what you make and how it worked out for you. Who knows – you may even come up with a way to make these recipes better and better!


Spicy Crab Spaghetti with Lemon & Asparagus

Light and filling, this Spicy Crab Spaghetti will be an elevated staple to your weeknight meal plan!

  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 2 1x
  • Category: Pasta
  • Cuisine: Italian


Units Scale
  • 8oz or 1/2 Pound Dried Pasta
  • 12 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive OIl
  • 1 Large Shallot
  • 2 Large Cloves of Garlic
  • 1/2 Bunch of Asparagus
  • 1/4 cup White Wine
  • 1 8oz container Lump Crab Meat (typically canned near your fish counter)
  • 23 Fresnos or 1 Tbsp Red Pepper Flakes
  • 1/2 stick of Butter, cold
  • Juice + Zest from 1-2 Lemons
  • Salt and Pepper, as needed


  1. Get a large pasta pot on the stove with water and salt. Bring to a boil.
  2. While waiting for your water, mince shallot and garlic.
  3. Drizzle about 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil in a sauté pan with sides. Add shallot, garlic, and a pinch of salt. Cook on medium until translucent, about 3 minutes.
  4. Slice asparagus on the bias, discarding the woody end part of the stem.
  5. Take crab meat and put into a bowl and gently comb your fingers through it to check for any hard shell pieces.
  6. When water is at a boil, add in pasta and set timer for recommended cooking time.
  7. To the shallot and garlic pan, add in 1/4 cup of white wine, asparagus slices and a pinch of salt and pepper. Let sauté for 2 minutes, adding more olive oil if needed.
  8. Then add in crab, fresnos (or pepper flakes), and 4 tablespoons of butter. Turn heat to medium-low and allow the butter to slowly melt, while heating the crab through, swirling your pan often.
  9. Squeeze lemon juice into the sauté pan and mix in.
  10. Drain pasta, reserving 3/4 Cup cooking liquid. Add pasta and 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid to the sauté pan and stir well. If looking a little dry, add in more liquid to help gloss it up. Sprinkle more salt and pepper in as needed.
  11. Serve and top with fresh grated parmesan cheese and lemon zest.


Alternatively, you an add in the lemon zest right before serving, but I like how it looks on top of the pasta once plated. 

I also like this pasta very lemon-y so I serve with a wedge of lemon to squeeze at the table too. 


  • Serving Size: 4oz Pasta + Toppings
  • Calories: 675

Keywords: Pasta, Spaghetti, Crab, Seafood, Asparagus, Lemon, Spicy, Italian

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Hi! I'm Sydney,

nice to meet you!

I left a marketing career in Hollywood to go to the Culinary Institute of America. After a few years of working in restaurants, I am now a private chef and sommelier in the 30a area.


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