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Creamy Crab-stuffed Pasta

When it comes to a dinner everyone will enjoy pasta is often the first choice for many cooks. It’s beloved around the world, but sometimes pasta can feel a bit same-y if you always end up having it with red sauce. For a wonderful change of pace this creamy crab-stuffed pasta is just the thing. Serve it with some garlic bread and a salad for a perfect dinner that looks like you spent way more time on it than you actually did.

The first step to making this recipe is to cook your large pasta. This can be the extra-large shells, or you can use manicotti or cannelloni pasta. Any large pasta with a hollow center will work well for this dish.

To make the sauce you’ll need to make a simple béchamel flavored with nutmeg. Then the filling for the pasta is made from crab or imitation crab, along with ricotta cheese, parmesan cheese, basil, and some garlic.

Creamy Crab-stuffed Pasta

You can use either lump crab meat that’s canned or the equivalent of thawed crab meat. The easiest, though, is to use imitation crab since it’s so inexpensive and readily available.

Then pour some of the béchamel sauce into a baking dish, stuff your al dente shells with the filling, and drizzle more sauce on top. This needs to bake for the cheese to melt and for all the flavors to come together.

Creamy Crab-stuffed Pasta

Once you take this out of the oven the final step (and one not to be skipped) is to top the pasta with freshly-grated lemon zest and a little more of the basil. These fresh toppings add a lovely balance to the rich, creamy sauce and filling.

Some of the best meals in the world are the simplest and in Italian cooking fresh and uncomplicated meals are usually favored above all others. And, this recipe is no different. If you’ve got time to make some pasta and some sauce, then you’ve got time to make this elegant crab-stuffed pasta recipe.

Serves 4-6

30m prep time

30m cook time

445 calories

Rated 4.2 out of 5
Rated by 18 reviewers

Allergens: Citrus, Gluten, Milk, Shellfish

For the filling:
  • 8-10 manicotti, large conchiglie, or cannelloni pasta
  • 8 oz lump crab meat or imitation crab pieces
  • 1 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan, divided
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves plus extra for garnish
  • 3 garlic cloves finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
For the béchamel sauce:
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 cups whole milk, warmed
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • large pinch nutmeg
  • zest of 1 lemon
For the pasta and filling:
  1. Cook pasta to al dente. Drain and set aside. Preheat oven to 400˚F. Cut crab into 1/ 2” pieces. In a large bowl combine ricotta, 3/4 cup Parmesan, egg, basil, garlic, crab, salt, and pepper and set aside.
For the sauce:
  1. Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat and then stir in flour. Mix until no lumps remain. Cook until lightly golden (about 7 minutes) stirring constantly. Raise heat to medium high and slowly whisk in milk. Bring to simmer then reduce heat. Simmer for 10-17 minutes or until completely smooth. Remove from heat and add in salt and nutmeg.
For the assembly:
  1. Grease a 9”x13” baking dish. Pour 1 cup of the béchamel sauce into baking dish. Spoon filling into pasta shells and line them up in baking dish. Top with remaining sauce and cheese. Bake for 20-25 minutes
  2. Garnish with basil and lemon zest. Serve immediately.

Recipe adapted from Giadzy.

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