Crab salad vinaigrette will please just about everyone

  • By J.M. Hirsch / Associated Press
  • Tuesday, June 27, 2006 9:00pm
  • Life

Navigating Independence Day potato salad prep is a nightmare in my family.

It’s a case of everyone demanding it their own way – and it baffles me that such an innocuous dish can elicit such strong feelings.

Our solution? Boil tons of potatoes together, then divide them into as many as a half dozen varieties of salad.

I’m easy. Heaps of crunchy vegetables, hard cooked eggs and gobs of mayonnaise make my perfect potato salad. My wife, however, prefers hers without the crunch. Her version loses the celery, but keeps the onion.

My father-in-law won’t eat vegetables, so his has just mayo and eggs. My mother’s versions keeps the vegetables, but ditches the egg and substitutes soy mayonnaise (she’s vegan). My father will eat anything, as long as the mayo is low-fat.

This year, I don’t want to deal with any of that.

I started looking for some sort of salad everyone (or at least a majority) could settle on. I wanted something light and barbecue-friendly, but without the mayo-vegetable-egg baggage that causes so much trouble.

Crab salad provided the perfect answer. A little olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper made a simple “vinaigrette” that nicely seasons but doesn’t overpower crab meat.

For texture and a bit of bite, I also tossed the crab with red radishes cut into thin matchsticks and just a bit of garlic.

I serve the salad in hollowed-out heads of iceberg lettuce.

2heads iceberg lettuce

1/4cup extra-virgin olive oil

Juice of 1 lemon

2cloves garlic, finely minced

1teaspoon kosher salt

1/2teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1scallion, finely sliced

4red radishes, cut into fine matchsticks

4cups lump crab meat

4cherry tomatoes, cut into quarters

Cut each head of lettuce in half across the center. Lightly trim the rounded end of each half to create a flat surface for the bowl to stand on. Carefully remove the core of each half to create four bowls. Put each on a plate and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper. Add the scallion and radish and mix to combine.

Add the crab meat and gently toss to coat evenly with vinaigrette. Mound a fourth of the crab salad in the center of each lettuce leaf. Garnish with tomatoes.

The salad can be refrigerated for up to a day.

Makes 4 servings.

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