[Photo by Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post]
Crab, Spring Potato + Watercress Salad
Succulent crabmeat, watercress and small creamer potatoes provide the versatile base for three preparations here: this lightly dressed salad; pan-fried cakes; and a fresh jumble of pasta. See the VARIATIONS, below.
From cookbook author Julia Turshen.
1 pound small white creamer potatoes or fingerlings
12 ounces jumbo-lump crabmeat
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons red chile paste, such as sambal oelek
1/3 cup creme fraiche
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 large bunch fresh watercress (tough stems discarded), coarsely chopped
1 small handful minced fresh chives
Place the potatoes in a large saucepan set over high heat and cover with 1 inch of cool water. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of salt and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to a simmer and cook the potatoes until tender, about 15 minutes. Drain the potatoes in a colander and let them sit until they're cool enough to handle.
Meanwhile place the crab in a large bowl and drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the oil, 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice and the chile paste. Stir gently to combine and season lightly with salt.
Whisk together the remaining oil and lemon juice in a large bowl along with the creme fraiche and Dijon mustard. Season lightly with salt.
Cut the warm potatoes in half or into bite-size pieces. Add them to the bowl of dressing along with the watercress and toss gently to combine.
Transfer the potato mixture to a large serving platter and top with the crab salad. Sprinkle with the chives and serve right away.
VARIATIONS: To make Crab and Potato Cakes, cook/cool the potatoes and make the crab salad, as directed above. Crush the potatoes with a potato masher and add to the salad. Taste and season lightly with salt, as needed. Form the mixture into 4 cakes and pan-fry for a few minutes in a lightly oiled or buttered nonstick skillet, over medium to medium-low heat, until lightly browned on both sides, turning them gently. Divide the watercress among individual plates and place a crab and potato cake atop each portion, then garnish with chives and serve with the creme fraiche dressing, for dipping.
To make Spaghetti With Crab and Watercress, combine the crab salad and chopped watercress with 12 ounces cooked dried spaghetti in a mixing bowl. Add 3 tablespoons each extra-virgin olive oil and fresh lemon juice, season lightly with salt and toss to incorporate. Serve sprinkled with the chives.
Nutrition information per serving: 330 calories, 18 g protein, 23 g carbohydrates, 19 g fat, 7 g saturated fat, 85 mg cholesterol, 800 mg sodium, 3 g dietary fiber, 1 g sugar.