Monday, August 15, 2011

Peaches are right at home with crabmeat and orange syrup in fresh summer salad

I love to try ingredients in dishes where you don’t often see them, and that’s why the recipe for Peach and Crab Salad with Mesclun and Herbs (click for the recipe) attracted my attention in Martha Stewart Living magazine.
   While most everyone likes to eat peaches out-of-hand or in desserts, the fruit doesn’t often show up in main dishes.
   And here was a recipe that was not only offering peaches in a main dish, but was pairing it with crab. It was not a combination I immediately recall seeing before. There was also an unusual syrup-dressing of orange juice, coriander and lime juice.
   Assembled together, the peaches, crab and light syrup resulted in a lovely, refreshing summer salad.
   With peach season in full swing, it was easy to get one of the key ingredients for the salad at its finest hour.
   The other key ingredient, crabmeat, posed more trouble.
   Lately I’ve been unable to find fresh jumbo lump crabmeat at the supermarket.
   Since I don’t want to put in the time and effort to take crabmeat out of crab legs, I have found a quite reasonable substitution: Lump crabmeat in a can.
   This is opposed to flaked or shredded crabmeat from the can, which can easily dry out and be unappetizing.
   Lump crabmeat, however, maintains enough of its moisture that it’s a reasonable replacement for fresh crabmeat from the seafood section of the supermarket.
   The mesclun the recipe calls for is simply pre-mixed salad greens that can be found in the prepared salads section of the supermarket. It’s sometimes labeled mesclun, but most often “baby greens” or “spring mix.”
   The syrup is made by bringing orange juice, sugar and coarsely-ground coriander to a boil, allowing the mixture to cool, straining it, and stirring in lime juice.
   One cup of the syrup is combined with sliced peaches, minced shallot, fresh mint and a thinly-sliced chile in a bowl (the recipe calls for a Thai red chile, but I used half of a jalapeno pepper instead. I also minced it instead of slicing it.)
   The crabmeat is mixed with the peach mixture, then mesclun, fresh basil and mint are added and the bowl of ingredients tossed together. More syrup is drizzled on top.
   The salad is served.

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