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This dish, adapted from "Back Pocket Pasta: Inspired Dinners to Cook on the Fly" by Colu Henry, combines delicate, sweet crabmeat with the anise flavor of fennel, which play nicely together for a simple, light pasta, perfect for the warmer weather. Fresh herbs such as the mint and basil add additional brightness and layers of flavor. Let’s cook “light” and pair with a beautiful chardonnay.

Crab, Fennel and Basil Spaghetti

8 oz. uncooked spaghetti

2 Tbsp. olive oil

1 1/2 c. sliced cored fennel bulb (about 1 medium)

1 tsp. crushed red pepper

1/4 tsp. salt

2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

12 oz. fresh lump crabmeat, picked

1/3 c. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, divided

2 Tbsp. thinly sliced fresh basil

2 Tbsp. coarsely chopped fresh mint

4 lemon wedges

Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting fat and salt. Drain pasta over a bowl, reserving 3/4 cup pasta cooking liquid for the sauce.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium. Add fennel; sauté 7 minutes.

Add crushed red pepper, salt and garlic; cook 1 minute.

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Add crab; cook 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add pasta and reserved 3/4 c. pasta cooking liquid; toss to coat.

Stir in 3 Tbsp. parsley.

Divide pasta mixture among 4 bowls; top evenly with remaining 2 Tbsp. parsley, basil and mint. Serve with lemon wedges.

Pair this with Ken Brown’s 2015 Rita's Crown Vineyard Chardonnay, a silky, expressive and bright chardonnay with aromas of apricot, honeysuckle, seashell, lemon zest and triple creme brie.

This stunning chardonnay offers fresh, expressive aromas of apricot and honeysuckle accented by hints of seashell, Meyer lemon zest and a touch of triple creme brie. The palate features enticing flavors of crisp pear, lemon curd, brioche and a hint of nutmeg. The rich texture is harmoniously intertwined with a crisp acid profile. The silkiness and complexity of the wine carry through to an opulent, yet bright finish. This chardonnay will continue to develop, becoming even more complex with additional bottle age. It's 100% Rita’s Crown Vineyard, Sta. Rita Hills.

Planted in 2007, Rita’s Crown has quickly become one of the star vineyards in the Sta. Rita Hills appellation. The estate is located at an elevation of 600 to 950 feet on a dramatic southwest-facing slope at the “crown” of the Santa Rita Hills, making it one of the highest vineyards in the AVA.

Ken’s “old world” approach to making chardonnay adds just the right touch of richness and depth to complement the vibrant character of the fruit. The grapes were handpicked and gently pressed as whole clusters. After settling in tank for 24 hours, the juice was racked to 60-gallon French oak barrels for fermentation. The wine was 100% barrel fermented with 100% malolactic fermentation. It aged sur lie for 11 months in French oak, including 17% new French oak. The wine was bottled on Aug. 4, 2016.


John David Finley is a freelance writer and author of the cookbook, "Sacred Meals from our Family Table," which features Santa Barbara County wines. He can be reached at