Years ago, a friend convinced me to try the Jonah Crab & Asparagus Salad at a restaurant. I was hesitant. My only crab experience at that point was another night, years prior, where a friend convinced me to order "soft" shell crabs for dinner. That didn't go well. What the heck is going on with soft shell crabs? The shells aren't... soft. A discussion for another time. Lump Jonah crab meat is an entirely different scenario. And it is delightful. Needless to say, I took my friend's suggestion to get the Jonah Crab and Asparagus Salad and it was phenomenal. So this is me trying to recreate my food memory.
Jonah Crab & Asparagus Salad Calls for Quality Meat
Whatever you do - please don't use imitation crab meat. That stuff is horrible for this recipe. Treat yourself to lump Jonah crab meat or another good quality lump crab meat. It's likely right there at your local supermarket. If you can't find the fresh stuff, I have discovered (since I posted this recipe) a canned lump crab meat that was pretty damn good. It is "Bumble Bee Lump Crabmeat Wild Caught." This will also be a slightly cheaper option for you as well. It is a 6-ounce can so you will need two cans to make this.
For a Great Crunch Factor Go With Homemade Croutons
Two other components I love with this salad are the basil vinaigrette and the homemade croutons. With the croutons, I had Italian loaf on hand that was hardening and a bit stale. This is perfect for delicious homemade croutons. I don't like wasting food, so I do try to utilize what I have for something. All you need to do is cut the bread into cubes, add olive oil, dried herbs and salt and bake it in the oven. It's such a simple way to elevate this meal and I love a crunchy component with my salads. As soon as they come out of the oven I am popping a couple in my mouth - you have permission to do the same.
Basil Vinaigrette: A Simple Dressing with Multiple Uses
The basil vinaigrette. Not only is it fantastic with this Jonah Crab & Asparagus Salad, it can be used for many other things. Grill some chicken and brush it on top before serving. Make a light summer sandwich with fresh mozzarella, tomato, roasted red pepper, arugula with basil vinaigrette spread on a ciabatta roll. You can use this for any number of salad options. If you're making some kind of crostini appetizer with goat cheese and cherry tomatoes - drizzle the basil vinaigrette on top of it.
There. Now you have some ideas! This salad, much like my Hearty Summer Salad, is filling enough to serve as a whole meal. It's got enough heft to be a lunch or dinner entree.
Now go forth and cook! Really, cook for your loved ones and enjoy each other's company around an amazing plate of food. It's a really important tradition to set aside some time for a gathering of your tribe. Home cooked food, no cell phones or tablets allowed - just good company talking and sharing stories about our days and our lives.
Are You Craving More Salads and Such? No Problem:
- Steak Salad with Pickled Red Onions & Bleu Cheese
- Thai Lettuce Wraps with Rotisserie Chicken
- Roasted Beet Salad with Blood Orange Vinaigrette
- Kale, Radish & Parsley Salad w/Fennel, Carrots & Walnuts
- Warm Goat Cheese Salad w/Toasted Pine Nuts & Dried Cherries
- My Favorite Balsamic Vinaigrette
- Roasted Veggie Tart w/Leeks & Goat Cheese
- Avocado, Tomato, Cucumber Salad w/Basil, Dill & Feta
Jonah Crab & Asparagus Salad w/Basil Vinaigrette
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Cook Time: 20 minutes
- Total Time: 40 minutes
- Yield: 4 1x
Lump Jonah crab, asparagus, greens, homemade croutons and a basil vinaigrette. This salad is the perfect light lunch or dinner that fills you up and leaves you feeling great!
- 2 cups basil
- ¾ cup olive oil
- ¼ cup white wine vinegar
- ½ clove garlic
- 1 tablespoon shallot
- Zest from ½ of a lemon
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
Homemade Croutons (optional):
- 3 cups of bread cubes
- ¼ cup olive oil
- ½ teaspoon dried basil
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 package romaine lettuce, chopped
- 1 8 ounce container lump Jonah crab meat
- 1 bunch of asparagus (steamed, then chilled and chopped)
- 3-4 small tomatoes, quartered (I used Campari)
- 1-2 avocados, cut in chunks
For the basil vinaigrette:
- Put the basil in your food processor.
- Rough chop garlic and add to food processor.
- Rough chop shallot and add to food processor.
- Add lemon zest, lemon juice, Dijon mustard.
- Add olive oil and white wine vinegar.
- Blend well then taste. Since there is Dijon mustard in the dressing and that is already a bit salty I usually don’t add any additional salt here. If you think it needs a pinch of salt, then go for it.
For the croutons (optional):
- I had Italian loaf on hand but you could use French bread, ciabatta rolls, or brioche. Cut bread into cubes and put in a mixing bowl.
- Drizzle olive oil all over the bread cubes.
- Add dried basil, dried thyme, garlic powder and salt. Or whatever dried herbs you have on hand: thyme, herbs de provence, oregano, etc).
- Mix to coat all the bread cubes.
- Cook in preheated oven at 375 degrees for 15-20 minutes until golden brown.
For the salad:
- Plan your time and steam the asparagus ahead. I prefer serving this chilled, but you can do warm or room temperature as well. I typically cut off the discolored bottoms of the asparagus first. Put the asparagus in a pan with water and cover with lid. Let it steam on medium heat until tender. Then stick in fridge to chill for 10 minutes
- Chop the romaine lettuce.
- Quarter your tomatoes.
- Cut avocados into chunks.
- Put lettuce on plate and add the lump Jonah crab, steamed & chilled asparagus, tomatoes, homemade croutons (if using), and avocado. Then drizzle the basil vinaigrette on the salad.
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