Summer Crab Salad with Carrots, Basil, and Lime
Published by Knopf
All along the Gulf Coast, crab is plentiful and almost cheap during the summer. It has a luxurious flavor, but it’s still light, and in this ceviche-like salad the lime and basil enhance the warm-weather flavors. The salty capers are a good foil for the sweetness of the crab and carrots. Serve this refreshing combination on lettuce leaves, as described below, or in a parfait or martini glass, garnished with a wedge of lime and some tortilla chips.
I prefer the texture of finely diced carrots in this salad. However, they need to be blanched, then shocked in ice water, before you use them, to ensure that the texture is not too dramatically different from that of the other ingredients in the salad. Raw carrots with too much crunch would take away from the elegance of this salad.
Blanching preserves a vegetable’s color and enhances its flavor. It can also be used to loosen skins, as with tomatoes and peaches, to make for easier peeling. To blanch a vegetable, plunge it into lightly salted boiling water for a few minutes, drain, and put it into ice water, to “shock” the vegetable (i.e., stop the cooking).
Preparation Time - Text 30 Minutes
Total Timeunder 30 minutes
OccasionCasual Dinner Party
Recipe Coursecold appetizer
Taste and Texturecrisp, herby, hot & spicy, light, savory, tart
Type of Dishfirst course salad
- ½ cup finely diced carrots
- Juice of 2 limes (about 4 tablespoons)
- 1 teaspoon finely grated lime zest
- 2 medium shallots, minced
- 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
- 1/3 cup good-quality olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- Hot sauce
- 3 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh basil
- 2-3 tablespoons minced scallions
- 1 pound jumbo lump crabmeat (Blue or Dungeness), well picked for shells
- 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped capers
- 1 head Bibb lettuce, cleaned and dried
- 1 avocado (preferably Hass), sliced or diced
- Basil sprigs, as garnish
Bring a small saucepan of water to a boil. Add the diced carrots and simmer 2-3 minutes; drain and shock in ice water. Remove the carrots from ice water and set aside.
Place the lime juice and zest, shallots, and vinegar in a small bowl and whisk in the olive oil. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and hot sauce.
In another bowl, mix the basil, scallions, crabmeat, capers, and carrots, and then fold in the lime vinaigrette.
Taste for seasonings, adding hot sauce, lime juice, or salt as needed.
To serve, arrange a few lettuce leaves on each of the salad plates. Top the lettuce with equal portions of the crab salad and avocado slices, and garnish with basil sprigs.
2007 Susan Spicer