Crabs with Pasta

Spaghetti with Crabs

(Serves 12)

Spaghetti and Crabs is a dish that brings back so many childhood memories. This is my grandpa Sal’s recipe. He is no longer with us but he would be so happy that I am sharing this recipe. Growing up we would all get so excited when he would make this for us.  Every summer we would have a big family dinner and the sauce was the star of the show.  

One year there was even a cookoff.  Let me explain.  My aunt is friends with a star of a hit series, The Sopranos. I won’t name him but he claimed that he made the best crabs.  So one year she arranged a cook off between him and my grandfather.   Even though the other sauce was really good, nothing can beat the flavors of my grandfather’s crabs.  He won the contest and many years of bragging rights.  The sauce is so good you can drink it.  Such great memories and really fun times that I wish I could get back.


⅔ cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil 

14 whole Garlic Cloves

2 ½  tsp.  Salt 

⅛ tsp. Hot Pepper Flakes

1 tsp. Black Pepper

20 Basil Leaves chopped 

8 -16 oz Cans Whole Peeled Tomatoes. 

24 – Whole Crabs backs removed and cleaned well.

3 lbs. Spaghetti)


In a very large saucepan (I believe mine is 2 gallons) heat the olive oil and add the whole garlic cloves and red pepper flakes. Sauté the garlic on a very low flame until fork tender. Add the salt and hot pepper. Add 10 basil leaves chopped to the oil. On a very low flame sautée for about 2 minutes. 

In the meantime, crush 4 cans of the tomatoes with your hands. Purée the other 4 cans using a hand blender. Remove the garlic and mash it with a fork. Add it back to the oil. Add the tomatoes to the olive oil/garlic mixture. Raise to medium heat and season with salt and black pepper. Once the sauce begins to boil add the crabs. Cook on low heat for about one and a half hours. Boil your pasta. Just before mixing the pasta and the sauce add the other 10 basil leaves to the sauce. At this point, give the sauce a taste and see if you need to adjust any seasonings. Once the pasta is cooked, drain it and toss it with the sauce. 

Quick recipe note. This makes about a gallon of sauce. You can freeze any leftover sauce that you have and use for another time. Trust me it is worth it.

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