Dill is the perfect herb for any picnic, we believe. The fresh brightness it adds to cold dishes refreshes in the summer months and helps cool the body. For this crab salad, we prefer not to use mayonnaise, and instead allow the dill and crab to stand on their own. The hint of sweet vinegar makes for a puckery taste, and serving it in artichoke bottoms makes it an easy yet somewhat elegant picnic hors d’oeuvre.
NOTE: This recipe is included in our cookbook: The Gilded Fork: Entertaining at Home, A Year of Dinner Parties.
Serves 16 as an hors d’oeuvre; serves 4 as a salad
6 ounces jumbo lump crab meat, picked over to remove any shell bits
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and sliced to 1/8” thickness
1 red bell pepper, 1/8” dice
2 celery stalks, strings removed and finely diced
3 tablespoons fresh dill, finely chopped
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon fine quality extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons sweet cider or raspberry vinegar
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 15-ounce cans artichoke bottoms
Prepare the vegetables:
Peel the cucumber and halve it lengthwise. Using a small spoon, gently remove the seeds and slice thinly into 1/8” slices. Dice the red bell pepper to 1/8” dice, then remove the strings from the celery, cut into lengthwise strips, and dice to 1/8” dice. Finely mince the dill.
Make the salad:
Pick over the crab meat to remove any stray pieces of shell or cartilage. Leave the large lumps intact. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the mustard, olive oil and lemon juice to form an emulsion. Add the diced vegetables and dill and stir to combine. Gently stir in the crab meat, being careful not to further break up the lumps.
At this point you may add a splash or two of the vinegar and mix until the salad reaches the desired consistency. It should be neither too dry nor too wet. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Place the crab salad in a sealed container and refrigerate until ready to use.
Just prior to serving, open the can of artichoke bottoms and carefully shave off the bottom end of each so the artichoke bottoms sit flat and level.
If serving as an hors d’oeuvre, place one or two heaping tablespoons of the crab salad on each artichoke bottom and garnish with a small sprig of dill. If serving as a plated salad, line the serving plates with lettuce leaves, place the salad on top, and serve immediately with a crusty baguette.