Crab salad with Autumn Fruit

crab-salad-with-legsIn November, the SF Bay Area celebrates the opening of Dungeness Crab season. These sweet crustaceans are all they’re cracked up to be. Paired with bright pomegranate seeds, tangy tangerines, and sweet, crunchy Fuyu persimmons atop a bed of lettuce, and sprinkled simply with lemon juice, they make a perfect late autumn meal.

I’m a bit squeamish about cooking the live crab, and clueless about cracking and cleaning it, so I took the easy way out when my fishmonger asked me if I’d like to have him crack the cooked crab.  You can look that part up on the internet. I got the 2.3 lb crab for $9.70 at Berkeley Bowl. It was enough for my husband and me. The next time I made it for a crowd as part of a potluck and shredded the crab.

fruit-and-crabIngredients: (serves 2)

2.3 lb crab (or thereabouts, depending on how hungry you are)

1 pomegranate

2 large seedless tangerines

3 medium Fuyu persimmons (the hard, flat-bottomed persimmons)

3 heads of Romaine lettuce, outer leaves removed (or substitute the lettuce of your choice)

1 tsp lemon juice, plus more to squeeze.

Rinse all produce. Tear lettuce into bite sized pieces and place on a plate. Seed the pomegranate, discarding the bitter white portion. Peel tangerines and separate into sections. Cut persimmons into bite sized pieces, removing large seeds if present (some have seeds, others are seedless). No need to peel them. Arrange the fruit on the lettuce and squeeze lemon juice on it.

You can serve the crab legs atop the salad for a meal. For a side salad, remove the meat from legs and center of crab and shred it on the salad. If desired, squeeze more lemon juice on the crab.

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Champagne-Shallot Vinaigrette

saladThis light vinaigrette is perfect to toss into salad greens and arugula. I sprinkle a few strawberries, blueberries, feta cheese and sliced almonds over the coated greens.

Champagne vinegar is a light golden, mild vinegar made from Chardonnay grapes aged in oak barrels. It can be expensive, but the Berkeley Bowl brand is a good deal. I’ve generally avoided salad vinegars because of their strong acidity. But  just ½ tsp honey is needed to balance the acidity of the champagne vinegar in this dressing. Since I don’t like the sharpness of fresh raw garlic, I prefer to get the garlic flavor from garlic olive oil. I used a shallot, which is milder than an onion.

Makes ¾ cup, which is enough to sprinkle on about 6 large or 10 small salads. Refrigerate leftovers and use within a week.

vinaigrette ingredientsIngredients:
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 Tb minced shallot
3 Tb champagne vinegar
½ tsp honey
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
1/4 tsp sea salt (to taste)
a few grinds of black pepper
1 Tb garlic oil
½ cup extra virgin olive oil

champagne vinaigretteIn a small bowl or blender, whisk together all ingredients except oils. While blending or whisking, slowly add the olive oil in a stream until the vinaigrette is emulsified.

Basil-Meyer Lemon Salad Dressing and Marinade

I used the flowering parts of my basil plant.  They added a floral quality.

You can also make this just with leaves if your plant is not flowering.

Serves 3 salads:

2 Tb basil flowers and/or leaves

juice  of one large Meyer lemon: 2 Tb

1 Tb water

1 Tb garlic-infused olive oil and 2 Tb extra virgin olive oil

sprinkle of salt to taste, about 1/8 tsp.

Blend together and pour over green garden salad. I made my salad with lettuce, tomato, cucumber, avocado, and artichoke hearts canned in water.

I added sliced baked chicken breast, and the basil dressing worked well with that too.

Great on the grill! To use as a chicken marinade: Double the basil, lemon and oil to ¼ cup each. Increase the salt to 1 tsp. I added a ripe tomato to the blender and it made the chicken juicy and tender after a couple of hours marinade time. Remember to make several cuts on each side of the boneless breast to allow the marinade to penetrate. Reserve a few tablespoons of the marinade (that you don’t put the chicken in), and pour over cooked chicken for even more flavor.

I made this in a clay pot, cooking the chicken in the marinade. It came out very juicy and tender. Immerse clay pot in a sink-full of water for 15 minutes. Pour chicken with the marinade in the pot. Place in cold oven and set temperature for 400′ and bake for about 30 minutes until done.