Delicious, quick crab salad

DINNER TONIGHT

July 06, 2005|By Donna Pierce | Donna Pierce,CHICAGO TRIBUNE

Until I discovered that my fishmonger would happily clean soft-shelled crabs for me, I shied away from taking full advantage of the crustaceans during their short season, which has a midsummer curtain call.

So, with the fishmonger's help, this salad comes together in a few minutes for a quick dinner on the deck or terrace. Dress the salad with prepared aioli, a garlicky mayonnaise.

Beverage pairing

For wines, try a chenin blanc or vinho verde or drink a sparkling water with lemon twists.

Soft-Shell Crab Salad

Preparation time: 25 minutes; cooking time: 8 minutes

Makes 4 servings

3 lemons

4 cleaned soft-shell crabs or 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves

1 cup self-rising flour (divided use)

1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley

1 teaspoon ground red pepper

3/4 teaspoon salt (divided use)

freshly ground black pepper

3/4 cup seltzer water

1/4 cup peanut oil

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/4 cup aioli (see note)

3 1/2 cups mixed salad greens

6 pitted kalamata olives, halved

2 hard-cooked eggs, quartered

1 avocado, halved, pitted, peeled, cut into 8 slices (optional)

Cut 2 of the lemons into wedges; set aside. Juice the remaining lemon. Reserve 1 tablespoon of the juice in a small bowl. Sprinkle crabs with the remaining juice. Place 1/2 cup of the flour on a plate; coat crabs in the flour. Set aside.

Combine remaining 1/2 cup of the flour, parsley, red pepper, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt and black pepper to taste in a medium bowl; whisk in seltzer to make a thin batter.

Heat the peanut oil in a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Dip 2 of the crabs in the batter, swirling to coat. Transfer to oil. Cook, turning once, until golden, about 2 minutes per side. Drain on paper towel. Repeat with remaining crabs.

Meanwhile, add olive oil to reserved 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice; whisk until emulsified. Whisk in aioli and remaining 1/4 teaspoon of the salt; toss with salad greens in a bowl. Divide greens among 4 plates. Garnish with olives, eggs, lemon wedges and avocado, if desired. Top each plate with a crab.

Note: Prepared aioli (a garlicky mayonnaise) is available in some markets. Or, mix 2 finely minced cloves of garlic into 1/4 cup of mayonnaise for a quick substitute.

Per serving: 415 calories; 28 grams fat; 4 grams saturated fat; 62 milligrams cholesterol; 25 grams carbohydrate; 16 grams protein; 782 milligrams sodium; 5 grams fiber

-- Recipe and analysis from the Chicago Tribune, a Tribune Publishing newspaper

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