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Wednesday, April 11, 2012

What's For Dinner?: Crab Arugula Salad

 I know, this all sounds pretty exotic, right? Well, not really. Readily available ingredients and basic equipment is all you need, and about 30 minutes to whip up something that seems pretty impressive. Hey, if I could do it in 20 minutes including taking a bunch of pictures, surely you can do it in 30! 
Crab Arugula Salad

To begin, make the dressing first:

dressing ingredients and equipment
The ingredients you will need (from left to right): dijon mustard- any brand is fine, ground black pepper, 2 eggs, salt, vegetable or canola oil, a lime, and most importantly is the food processor. Don't worry if you don't have one, an electric mixer or immersion blender would work. I suppose you could do it by hand if you really want to, but make sure you have uber strength in your arms and lots of stamina! Go buy a machine already! 

I used to just buy the cheap machines and treat them as semi-disposable. I would use them for a few years until they broke or the blade was too dull to cut and then I would buy a new one. Then I finally realized if I bought a good one it wasn't that much more expensive and it would last a lot longer. I have the basic medium-sized Cuisinart model, which comes with a general purpose top, and a chopping top and blades. Pictured here is the general purpose top.

The Cuisinart food processor has a tiny cup/stopper that goes in the center hole of the lid to prevent stuff from flying out, and it also has a nifty feature which I will use when preparing the dressing, which is essentially homemade mayonnaise using lime instead of lemon. 

Cuisinart Food Processor lid cap

See the little lid with tiny hole in the center? The hole is the perfect size for adding the oil at the ideal rate for making mayonnaise. I will explain more as we move along.

how to separate an egg
To begin, separate your egg yolks from the whites and put yolks in the bowl of your food processor. Don't be squeamish, just crack it into your hand and gently let the whites run through your fingers into the sink (or container for use in something else). Add 1 tsp dijon, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp pepper, and 2 tbsp lime juice (about 1 lime). Put the top on the processor and turn on the machine. When I'm blending small quantities I sometimes tip the entire machine at an angle so all the "goodies" go to one side and get mixed by the spinning blade. 

adding the oil with machine running

Now, put the little cup (if you have one) onto the lid and begin filling it with 2/3 cup vegetable oil. Just keep refilling it as it runs out into the bowl of the processor. If you don't have this feature, just pour it VERY slowly through the opening in the lid. 

See how slowly I mean by checking out the picture here:
a very slow trickle of oil into the mix is critical

Once you have added all the oil, you will have a nice thick white-ish mayonnaise. I'm using this as the main dressing for the salad. You could easily double the recipe and keep half of it in the refrigerator for a week or so to use on sandwiches and such. Won't your family be impressed?

finished mayonnaise dressing

peeling the jicama

Now to finish up, peel a small jicama (hick-uh-muh)- a brown bulb vegetable with texture and taste similar to raw potato or water chestnut. I like to peel it by cutting off both ends to a make flat surface for sitting on my cutting board, then I whack off the outer peel with my chef's knife. You could use a regular peeler or paring knife if you prefer.

jicama matchsticks
Once peeled, cut the jicama into thin slices(1/8-1/4" thick), lay the slices on their sides in a stack and cut again into strips (matchsticks). Put the jicama in a mixing bowl and pour juice of 1/2 lime, and 1 tbsp olive oil, salt and pepper to taste over the top of the jicama. Mix well. 

mixture of fresh arugula and baby spinach
Now toss this mixture with 1-2 cups fresh arugula leaves, or combination of arugula and baby spinach leaves. Arugula has a strong peppery taste that some people (my kids) find objective. If I'm making this for adults I do just the Arugula, but for the kids I mix half and half with spinach. Toss well with the jicama to coat the leaves with a little of the oil and lime juice mixture on the jicama.

16 oz can crabmeat in the refrigerated section of your market

In a separate bowl mix 1 pound crab meat-I bought this 16 oz can in the refrigerated section at Trader Joe's for about $8. WOW! What a deal! Sure, you could use fresh crab, (are you rich?) or even use imitation crab if your budget is really tight, which makes this an affordable every-day option. In with the crab, I mix 2-3 green onions, sliced up (green AND white parts), 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro, and all of the mayo dressing we made up above.

Here it is all mixed up with the dressing:

dressed crab meat mixture
All you have to do is plate it all up together. Put the greens and jicama mixture on a platter or low bowl, and scoop the crab mixture into the center. Garnish with a little fresh cilantro leaves and a wedge of lime and avocado slices. 

Enjoy!  (ingredient list follows)

Crab Salad:

16 oz crab meat
2-4 green onions, green and white parts, chopped
1/4-1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

Green Salad:

4 cups fresh arugula leaves (or combination of arugula and baby spinach)
juice of 1/2 lime (approx 2 tsp)
1 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Mayonnaise Dressing:

2 egg yolks
1 tsp dijon mustard
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
juice of 1 lime (2 tbsp)
2/3 cup vegetable or canola oil

Preparation time: 30 minutes
can be made ahead, leave dressing off green leaves until ready to serve to prevent wilting. Hold in the refrigerator up to 2 days.

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