First dates over dinner are usually the worst — worrying if you’re going to spill something, checking for lettuce stuck between your teeth, making awkward motions for your wallet when the bill arrives. Lucky for Denise, she walked away from hers with a recipe that’s lasted a lifetime. Her take on the fresh salad is perfect for a nice spring Sunday lunch. What’s the best (or worst!) meal you’ve had on a dinner date? – Maggie
It was a Tuesday evening in the middle of October, I remember, the first time I had a bite of what exotic might taste like — it has stayed with me for years. Cold and blistery, the brink of winter was nipping at my toes. I was young, but I was excited about my first “real date” out in the city, and at a fancy restaurant to boot. I was curious the entire drive through the city where we might be going, and even more puzzled when we pulled into a dark alley, next to a dimly lit building.
It was cozy inside, like slipping into an old friend’s home. The waiters were beyond charming, more so than my date. They ambled between speaking French, Spanish and Basque, and flirted while placing our courses onto the table top, never breaking eye contact with you. It didn’t matter if you were with a date or not. The evening kind of blended into a bottle, or two, of wine and many different sensations. The food was impeccable. With every bite I fell more in love with my first French Basque experience.
The standout course of the evening was something completely new to me. I had never experienced all of these flavors in one dish at the same time: salad greens that were so bitter they could take your breath away, creamy crab just plucked from the sea, crisp red peppers that were so much better than their green cousins, chunks of sweet, sweet mango and spicy cayenne pepper. I was sure this was how exotic might taste. Every bite left me wanting more….
The recipe has evolved since that first bite of temptation. I now make this salad at home for special occasions or even for a light lunch. Instead of wintery bitter greens, I like to use frisee, and I lightly season the crab with homemade mayonnaise and an abundance of chives. Before nestling the crab mixture into the greens, I lightly toss them with an olive oil dressing made with cayenne pepper and lemon juice.
When taking your first bite and your second, be sure to get a little bit of everything on your fork, you want to take in the entire sensation. The sweet and exotic mango is the addition that will leave you begging for more.
Mango Crab Salad
Makes two salads
- 1/4 pound fresh crab, picked over to remove an shells
- 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
- 2 teaspoons chives, minced
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons Pimiento Piquillo or regular cayenne pepper
- 2 cups frisee
- 1/2 of a fresh mango, diced
- kosher salt
1.Wash the frisee and pat dry. If you have a salad spinner, use this instead.
2.In a small bowl, mix the crab with the chives and mayonnaise; set aside.
3.In another small bowl, add the olive oil, lemon juice and pimiento piquillo and whisk to combine. Season to taste with the kosher salt.
4.Toss the frisee with the olive oil dressing and divide between the two plates. Add the crab mixture to the frisee and sprinkle the diced mango over the top. Serve. Eat. Enjoy.
All photos styled and photographed by Denise Woodward.
Eat Boutique is an online magazine + market for food enthusiasts to celebrate the best pure, local + comforting handmade foods. We call it: food that hugs you back. Looking for the perfect gift? Eat Boutique sells gift boxes filled with handmade sweet and savory treats. Send a gift box of handmade food today.