Thursday, April 1, 2010

Crab and Avocado Salad with Japanese Dressing from Nigella --What's In Your Easter Basket?

This week at I Heart Cooking Clubs (our last week with the wonderful Nigella Lawson ;-( but then next week we start cooking with Mark Bittman ;-) yay!), the theme is Easter Basket. Now I like an Easter basket full of chocolate like anyone else, but in all things balance so why not enjoy a healthy but still decadent Crab & Avocado Salad with Japanese Dressing for your Easter brunch or lunch, leaving yourself plenty of room to indulge in some Easter goodies?! With a combination of arugula and some shredded romaine as Easter grass, an egg-shaped serving of crab salad and a few smaller grape tomato and avocado "eggs" your salad plate becomes your salad "basket" for a zesty tangy and quite delicious dish that can be served as a starter or a light meal for Easter or any time.

This recipe can be found in "Nigella Express" on pages 32-33 or at the Food Network site here.

Nigella says, "This is another one of those salads that my husband doesn't notice is a salad and that we eat fairly often at home. Now that I can find good, fresh tubs of crabmeat at the supermarket I can really rely on this as a table and tummy filler when I don't have much time for slow, store-by-specialist-store shopping. The quantities below provide generous amounts for four people, so this is the sort of starter that you can use to save you coming up with enormous amounts later on in the evening. I often halve it for a quick supper for the two of us at home, or when it's me and a girlfriend and a chilled bottle of rose."

Crab and Avocado Salad with Japanese Dressing
"Nigella Express" by Nigella Lawson
(Serves 4 as a starter or 2 as a meal)

2 tablespoons mirin
1/2 teaspoon wasabi paste
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
Few drops sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon Maldon/kosher salt or 1/4 teaspoon regular salt
1 long red chile pepper, deseeded and finely chopped
1 1/4 cups crabmeat
Approximately 1 teaspoon lime juice
5 cups rocket salad
1 ripe avocado
1 to 2 teaspoons chopped chives

In a bowl that will take the crabmeat later, whisk together the mirin, wasabi, rice vinegar, sesame oil and salt. Then remove around 4 teaspoons to another big bowl that will fit your salad in later.

To the first, more generous amount of dressing, add the finely chopped chile and then the crabmeat, and fork through to mix thoroughly.

To the small amount of dressing in the other bowl, add the lime juice and then the salad leaves and toss well to mix before arranging on 4 plates.

Spoon a quarter of the mixture into a regular metal kitchen third-cup measure, squishing down to get it all in, then take it over to a salad-lined plate and unmold in the center of it. Just turn over, tap and the crabmeat should fall out. Continue with the remaining 3/4 of the crabmeat and the 3 other plates.

Using a rounded half spoon measure, scoop out curls or humps of avocado and dot around on top of the salady bits. Spritz with a little lime juice. Sprinkle the chopped chives over the 4 mounds of crab and take the plates to the table.

Notes/Results: Yum! This is a really delicious salad with great flavors. I did add a bit more wasabi and lime because I like strong flavors, but the dressing is really good and light. The avocado adds creaminess and when paired with the crab, makes the salad more of a decadent treat than your run of the mill salad. I bought the packaged crab on sale in the cold case of my grocery store fish department but if you don't want to splurge too much, little shrimp would work or even cooked and shredded chicken breast or canned salmon. I like the tomatoes--not in the original recipe, for their color and the sweetness they add. I will make this salad again.

You can see what the other IHCC participants put in their Easter Baskets by going to the IHCC website here and following the links.

Speaking of Easter treats and baskets, last year I made these naturally-dyed Easter eggs. Messy, slightly smelly but pretty and fun. Here's the link to that post which has the directions for making pink (beets), yellow (turmeric) and blue (purple or red cabbage) eggs if you want to give it a go.

Happy Easter week!


  1. I haven't dyed eggs in ages! this salad looks perfect for easter :)

  2. Very cute presentation! This is so much of a better way to celebrate easter than by eating tons of mini reese's pieces. Which is what I used to do. Or eat jelly beans. One color at a time.

  3. I have all the Nigellas on DVD (and book) and I must say that it pleases me no end how much prettier your end results are.

    I've been wanting to try this but freshly picked crab isn't around yet and the tinned is just all kinds of wrong. Patience, patience as it's just gone Spring.

  4. Love the idea of a "salad basket", very cute. I love how you made everything into egg shapes!
    I have a couple more Nigella recipes up my sleeve, but I'm anxiously awaiting my copy of How to Cook Everything Vegetarian. It looks like it is full of awesome recipes.

  5. I'm so glad you made this's on my list on the fridge to do and yours gave me inspiration to things your way!

  6. Good thinking to dress it up as an easter basket.
    I just happened upon a small package of years-old turmeric in the cupboard, now I know what to do with it.
    Also a nice selection of Cook the Book Club books. Looking forward to Madhur Jaffrey's biography.

  7. What a delicious salad......I love avocado and the flavors you add to sound fantastic. Happy Easter.

  8. Deb, this salad is to die for. So darn perfect for this time of year. I think we live off of salads all of Spring and Summer (with a few BBQ's thrown in for good measure). Must try it. Thanks and have a marvelous Easter.

  9. Wow, that salad sounds amazing! I wish crab was a little more accessible here in Minnesota, it is a bit pricey!

  10. Kat--last year was my first time in awhile to dye eggs. Although I am tempted to do it today. ;-)

    Joanne--thanks! This salad still leaves room and calories for some treats!

    Lisa--thank you! Fresh crab would be great--although the cold pack crab in the seafood department is pretty good for things like this.

    Kim--HTCEV is one of my favorites--you will find a tom in there!

    Pierce--I had been eyeing this one for a while now. Hope you like it. ;-)

    Andreas--Thanks! I hope you join us at CTB sometime!

    Erica--Mahalo--the avocado and crab are a great combo.

    Teresa--Thank you and you have a wonderful Easter too! ;-)

    Emily--thank you! It is pricey here too, although I got the cold pack on sale and indulged a bit! ;-)

  11. I see color - lots of it. The salad sounds scrumptious and it was a terrific way to present it. Have a wonderful holiday, Deb. Blessings...Mary.

  12. That is one beautiful salad! Pretty eggs too - Happy Easter! :-)

  13. I remember seeing that on Nigella Express and thinking how good it looked! Yum! Great for a special brunch.

  14. Beautiful salad. Happy Easter, Deb

  15. Deb, this salad sounds absolutely delicious - I would love to try this but don't really come across freshly picked crab here much - usually only whole crabs (and not even those very often) or tinned. And what a perfect interpretation of an Easter basket. It's beautiful.

  16. Mary--Thank you! Hope your Easter was wonderful.

    Martha--Mahalo! Happy Easter to you too.

    Foodycat--Thanks--it was yummy! ;-)

    Christine--Thank you and Happy Easter!

    Sue--I can't get fresh crab either but the cold pack--not really canned but in a tub in the seafood section was actually quite good. ;-)


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