Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Summer Crab Salad with Carrots, Basil, and Lime

If you grew up anywhere near the Chesapeake Bay, nothing says summertime more than blue crabs and corn.  Crabs come in many forms - crabcakes, bushels of steamed or boiled crabs, crab dip, softshell crabs, etc.  This crab salad came from the Susan Spicer cookbook one of my friends gave me as a wedding gift.  It seemed like the perfect dish to mark the end of summer 2010, both because the ingredients encapsulate all that is summer to me, and also because after a long weekend of gorging on pork, I really needed something light and fresh.

This crab salad was nice and light, with a subtle sweetness from the crab, carrots, and basil, balanced out by the slight heat from the hot sauce and the brine of the capers.  The lime vinaigrette makes the whole thing taste even more bright and summery, if that is even possible.  My only complaint is that, while this salad was lovely, when I think crab I think Old Bay and there was obviously no Old Bay present in this salad.  So when I took my first bite all I could think was "man, crabs just aren't the same without Old Bay."  But with all of that said, this crab salad was bright and lovely.  Then again, of the two dishes I made tonight - this salad and creamed corn, the corn took the cake.  By a landslide.  But it's not because the crab salad wasn't nice.  Instead the corn is really just that awesome.

Recipe after the jump!

Summer Crab Salad with Carrots, Basil, and Lime
Crescent City Cooking: Unforgettable Recipes from Susan Spicer's New Orleans
By Susan Spicer with Paula Disbrowe

1/2 cup carrots, finely diced
juice of 2 limes
1 tsp lime zest
2 medium shallots, minced
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
1/3 cup evoo
hot sauce
3 tbsp fresh basil, coarsely chopped
2-3 tbsp scallions, minced
1 lb. jumbo lump crab meat (preferably blue or dungeness crab), well picked for shells
2 tbsp capers, coarsely chopped
1 head Bibb lettuce, cleaned and dried
1 avocado (preferably Hass), sliced or diced
basil sprigs for garnish

Bring a small saucepan of water to a boil.  Add diced carrots and simmer 2-3 minutes.  Drain and shock carrots in an ice bath.  Remove carrots from ice bath and set aside.

Place lime juice, zest, shallots, and vinegar in a small bowl and whisk in evoo.  Season to taste with s&p and hot sauce.  Set aside.  In another bowl, mix basil, scallions, crab, capers, and carrots.  Fold in lime vinaigrette.  Taste for seasonings, adding hot sauce, additional lime juice, or salt as needed.

To serve, arrange lettuce leaves on each salad plate.  Top with equal portions of crab salad and avocado.  Garnish with basil sprigs.

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