only the best January 25, 2011

Navigating the waters of my new found food lifestyle has been relatively easy…for the most part. I’ve been eating at home more, that’s for sure. It’s kind of eye-opening to go to all your favorite places and have to really negotiate the menu to be able to eat – even when I was eating lots of veggies and such when dining out, I didn’t have to think about things having beef broth or chorizo in them. I’m happy to report that many places I’ve encountered are more than happy to work with my non-meat eating status…or at the very least be extremely helpful in finding something I can eat.

One thing that has been a real challenge is eating fewer carbs and starchy foods – it’s so easy to replace meat with empty carbs. I want to be eating lighter overall. In one of my rare moments that I’ve craved seafood – I’ve eaten in 3 times since the big switch – I headed to…a steakhouse. We’re seriously lacking amazing seafood restaurants here in town. I’m not sure how it is in your cities…but when I want seafood here in Atlanta, I tend to try out the steak places because they always have extremely fresh & great quality seafood for their trays of oysters, shrimp cocktails and seafood towers. Kevin Rathbun is a wonderful chef here in town…and at his eponymous steakhouse just a few minutes from me, I enjoyed this incredible salad with a glass of Sauvignon Blanc.

The flavors in this salad are so clean and clear that you really have no choice but to buy the absolute best of each ingredient. The version I had was made with imperial lump crab – if you can’t source it, using great quality jumbo lump crab is going to work just fine. This isn’t the time to scrimp – don’t go reaching for one of those cans of shelf stable crab meat or some krab with a K. I’m not sure how the vinaigrette at Rathbun Steak was made but I used a perfectly beautiful Meyer lemon in mine. It’s pretty glorious but Meyer lemons have been hard to come by here – a regular lemon will also do the trick. While this is a Pescatarian recipe, the base salad recipe here is great on its own and could easily be served as a vegetarian salad or side.

Crab & Asparagus Salad – serves 4 as a small starter

  • 8 ounces best quality jumbo or imperial lump crab meat – if you’re buying the best you can, should be little need to pick through it for shells but you be the judge
  • 1 small bunch  (between 12-15)  large green asparagus, rinsed and woody ends removed
  • 1 small bunch (between 12 – 15)  white asparagus, rinsed and woody ends removed
  • juice of one large Meyer lemon
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons best quality extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup roasted dry pistachios, chopped
  • kosher salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste

– Place asparagus on a cutting board on a flat work surface. Using a peeler, julienne the asparagus stalks to make a sort of slaw/salad – I found that holding it at one end and pressing down with the peeler in the other helped make more even shreds. Those pieces that are too thin to peel anymore can be julienned with a knife and added to the salad. You’re not looking for perfection here – some variations in size are perfectly fine. Repeat this with all of the asparagus and combine them in a large mixing bowl.

– In another small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice & olive oil. Drizzle that slowly over the shaved asparagus in the larger bowl – you just want to evenly coat the salad but it should not be swimming in dressing. Gently fold the lump crab meat into the asparagus mixture to coat them with the dressing & incorporate it into the salad – be careful not to break it up too much. Give this a taste here & season with salt and pepper to your liking. Right before serving, sprinkle the chopped pistachios over the salad. Serve immediately.


Paula - bell'alimento Jan 25, 2011 10:01 am

<3 <3 <3! I'll be picking up some jumbo lump crab meat SOON! xoxo

esther Jan 25, 2011 10:01 am

This salad looks amazing! I’d love to give it a shot. =)

How would you prep the crabs? boil? steam?

tami Jan 25, 2011 10:01 am

hi esther! i purchased just the jumbo lump crab meat from the seafood department at whole foods – theirs is packaged in large chunks with the shell already sorted out. it’s pricey but worth it for the ease of the recipe. i would imagine, though, you could steam fresh crabs…allow them to cool off….and break them down to get the crab meat. Having crab meat that fresh could only further enhance the taste of this.

Cookin' Canuck Jan 25, 2011 11:01 am

Ever since I was a kid, crab has been my favorite seafood. The simplicity of the flavors in this salad would enhance, and not drown, the sweet crab meat. Beautiful!

Prerna@IndianSimmer Jan 25, 2011 12:01 pm

Its funny that I had NEVER eaten crab in my life until a few months back! We don’t normally get such “fancy” (yup, its fancy for us!) seafood in the part of the world whr I hail from. But now its definitely one of my favorites!

Niki Jan 25, 2011 04:01 pm

What a gorgeous salad – I love the simplicity of it, and I can only imagine how wonderfully all the flavors play off each other. I look forward to trying it soon. Thanks so much for sharing!

Paula Jan 25, 2011 07:01 pm

Thanks for the inspiration! Amazing photo – fabulous recipe idea. Looking forward to trying it with local dungeness crab. Yum.

Mairi @ Toast Jan 26, 2011 03:01 am

Simple, fresh and light…loving the look of that salad. I will hoard it until Spring & new season asparagus. It will also give me time to source some crab, for some reason not common place here in NZ.

Elizabeth @ Saffron Lane Jan 26, 2011 12:01 pm

I just finished cracking and cleaning close to ten pounds of Dungeness crab for a client — and my hands have the battle scars to prove it. Still, this sounds so lively and refreshing. Looking forward to making it soon!

Soma Jan 26, 2011 05:01 pm

I never cook crab at home. But I love it. I guess I will dare to get the prepared ones from stores. Looks amazing!

katrina Jan 26, 2011 05:01 pm

Oh – I’m craving freshness like this! Just beautiful, clean, tasty food – thanks!

Kelly @ EvilShenanigans Jan 27, 2011 12:01 am

Crab is one of the few seafood items I like … the other is shrimp. I just used crab ina new recipe tonight, as it happens. That salad sounds so fresh, simple, and bright!

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