Make This Tonight: Crab Salad with Lemon Dressing

July 10, 2012

Crab Salad with Lemon Dressing
Photo by Joseph De Leo; styled by Mariya Yufest

With Fourth of July feasts in our rearview mirror, there's little more we're looking forward to this week than packing in the veggies. Main course salads like this crab-topped one offer substance, style, and sound nutrition. Crab, hard-boiled eggs, and Yukon gold potatoes add heft, pink-ringed radish slices earn points for visual appeal, and a hearty supply of watercress, endive, haricots verts, and celeriac hold down the nutrition fort.

Or do they? Recent research by scientists at Purdue University suggests that vegetables don't make all their nutrients fully accessible to us, and that fats found in dressings hold the key that unlocks more of them. In the June edition of Molecular Nutrition and Food Research, the researchers report that test subjects who consumed salads with dressings made with monounsaturated fats (they used canola oil) were able to absorb more nutrients from the salad than test subjects who ate the same salad with dressings made with saturated or polyunsaturated fats, or no fat at all. Indeed, the strongest correlation was between higher fat intake and increased nutrient absorption, which was measured by the amount of heart disease-fighting carotenoids found in test subjects' blood.

But the most important take away from this discovery is not that we should be eating more Caesar salads and coleslaw. Instead, it is that, in moderation, healthy fats like those found in extra virgin olive oil, nuts, and seeds bring more than just flavor to the table -- they improve our ability to absorb nutrients in foods eaten in tandem. Embracing healthy fats rather than eschewing fat completely enables us to get more bang for our (vegetal) buck, while keeping the balance of nutrition in our favor.

Crab Salad with Lemon Dressing

Serves 2


1/2 shallot, finely chopped
2 dashes hot sauce
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon finely chopped chives
Salt and pepper
8 ounces lump crabmeat


1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 shallot, finely chopped
2 teaspoons champagne or white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon chopped chives, more for garnish
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 pound baby Yukon gold potatoes, scrubbed
1/3 pound haricots verts or thin green beans, trimmed
1 bunch watercress, chopped coarsely
1 bunch endive, chopped in 1/2-inch-thick slices
3 radishes, thinly sliced
1 small celeriac, peeled and cut into thin matchsticks, or 1 fennel bulb, trimmed, halved and cut into thin wedges
2 hard-cooked eggs, peeled and finely chopped

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

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Wine Pairings:

I'm a fan of Chardonnay with crab -- and with most crustaceans and shellfish, really. Chardonnay comes in a lot of different styles, but for this salad, stick with the Old World. Chardonnay from Chablis or the Mâconnais offers leaner, more mineral, and saline flavors, while further down Burgundy you'll get more weight and texture. As always, you can go the Champagne route, which is perfect with everything here, especially crab, potatoes, and mustard.

Top Picks

2009 Domaine des Niales Rhedon-Marin Mâcon-Villages Vieilles Vignes, France
2010 Jean-Paul & Benoît Droin Chablis, France

Jake Rosenbarger

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What main-course salads are you serving this summer? Share your cooking tips and meal ideas in the comments section below.

Like this post? See the Make This Tonight topic from last week: Mole Grilled Steak.

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