chilled crab salad with roasted beets & asparagus

9 | March 27, 2011

Recently, we packed our bags and flew to San Francisco for my best friend’s wedding. Of course, I made sure to add a few days onto the trip not for sight seeing (although the galleries and the MOMA were a must), or tourists traps, or relaxing…no I added a few days merely to taste everything San Francisco had to offer. Unfortunately, traveling with a two year old did prohibit a lot of what I wanted to explore but when I came home I was satisfied with what I accomplished.

Now, living in the middle of the great state of Texas does not lend itself to many fresh seafood meals. Not once while I was there did I get near beef, chicken or anything that once walked on land. Why would I? I mean Texas does have the best beef in the U.S. (especially 50 minutes outside of Waco at a little ranch called the Steele 308) but I’m not biased or anything. *wink, wink*  It was a flurry of fantastic seafood and sashimi and I was in heaven!

One meal that stuck out in my mind was a simple cold crab salad from Waterbar. {please note this is not Waterbar’s recipe for their Chilled Crab Salad, just my interpretation of a fabulous dish} It was a fresh and delightfully bright salad with crab, sweet roasted beets, and crisp asparagus served on top of a cool dollop of green goddess dressing that I’m still thinking about! It paired well a Sancerre or a Sauvignon Blanc but honestly I can’t remember which one it was I was drinking or liked more. Literally the moment I landed in Dallas I headed to Whole Foods and then home to recreate this tasty dish.

Most likely, the kids will have nothing to do with this selection so I’m including this recipe in the Date Night category. This can be made up to a day in advance and makes for the perfect decedent lunch or a starter salad to a great date night with the hubs, wife, boyfriend, girlfriend…or whomever you want to wine and dine at home!

Chilled Crab Salad With Roasted Beets and Asparagus
serves 2

  • 2 to 3 small beets, golden or ruby or both
  • 1 bunch asparagus
  • 4 to 8 oz fresh lump crab meat*
  • lemon zest

    green goddess dressing:
  • 6 scallions
  • 1 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh dill
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 anchovy fillets
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 cup creme fraiche
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise

Preheat oven to 400°F.

I like to cook a lot of beets at a time when I roast so I will have some for a beet and goat cheese salad or to puree for things like this (beets make great baby food too!). I looove me some beets. looove. Anyway, wash and chop the ends off the beets.

Wrap beets in foil, place on a baking sheet and place in the oven. Roast for 50 minutes until tender (test by piercing with a fork). Allow to cool.

When beets are cooled, remove the peel by simply brushing it off with your fingers. Warning you will be left with pink stained hands from the beets. If you would rather not have oddly colored hands for the rest of the day, by all means throw on a pair of gloves or peel under running water.

With a knife, quarter beets and set aside.

Bring a large saute pan with water to a boil. With a knife, slice off the ends of the asparagus.

Place the asparagus in the boiling water and reduce heat to a medium simmer. Cook for 5 minutes just until the asparagus are tender, yet still crisp.

Immediately transfer the asparagus to a bowl of water and ice for 2 to 3 minutes or until cooled. Transfer to a plate and set aside.

To make the dressing…

Chop the scallions. Place both white and green parts into a food processor or a good blender.

Do the same with the basil, parsley, and dill and add to the scallions in the food processor.

Chop the garlic and add to the herbs into the food processor.

Add lemon juice. Now you are ready to pulse. Pulse the food processor until all of the green herby goodness is finely chopped and mixed.

Add the anchovy fillets and give the food processor another quick pulse.

Next, add the creme fraiche, mayonnaise, and salt and pepper.

Puree until all ingredients are combined and the dressing is smooth. At this point you can make all of this a day in advance, refrigerate and plate whenever you serve.

Grab your favorite plate and place a dollup of green goddess dressing in the center. On top of that add 2oz (1/4 cup or however much you desire) of lump crab meat. Note: The best crab meat is going to come straight out of the crab. But honestly I will tell you to by a pound of crab in Texas right now was way more than I wanted to pay ($24) at the moment. I will admit I used Whole Foods brand lump crab meat that came packaged in a container. No prep needed. If you do this, beware of imitation crab and if you are not sure ask your fishmonger.

To Prepare fresh crab:

  1. Purchase 1 bundle of crab legs, either King Crab (recommended) or Snow Crab. A bundle is basically one half of a crab. These types of crab will always come cooked and frozen. One bundle will produce enough for 4oz. If you desire more crab meat to make this a meal, purchase two bundles.
  2. To easily remove the crab from it’s shell, wrap crab legs in damp/wet paper towels and completely wrap in plastic wrap. Because King crab is so large you will need to divide to 2 legs to a bundle.
  3. Place on a microwave safe plate and microwave each bundle  separately for a minute & a half on regular power. You can also use an electronic or bamboo steamer for 3 minutes. Never boil crab. It just becomes a soggy mess.
  4. Remove from the microwave and allow to cool to the touch.
  5. With a crab mallet or hammer, gently tap the shells of the crab legs. Holding a crab leg in your hands, break the leg in half and gently remove all of the meat you can and place in a bowl. Discard shell. Repeat with all legs and claws. Place crab meat in the refrigerator for 5 minutes to cool completely.

Place the beets (about 4 to 5 quarters per plate) and asparagus (3 to 4 spears) on the plate near the dressing. This is where you can have a little fun designing your own plate. Go for it and then send me pics. No seriously, I want to see! Send to:, or post on facebook or twitter.

Top the crab with a little lemon zest and you are ready to serve! It’s bright and flavorful. The crab is delicate and slightly sweet which contrasts nicely with the tang of the dressing and earthiness of the beets and the asparagus. A perfect and simple date night meal that will sure to impress. Enjoy.

Can you believe I didn’t take my camera with me? I don’t even know how that one happened but thanks to my phone I was able to capture two of my favorite moments in San Francisco. On the left: Mia and The Husband in Chinatown after we stopped by the Empire Bakery to have four moon cakes mostly all consumed by little miss Mia. We also have found she is a very adventurous eater. On this trip it was her first time to try and devour ox tail, mussels, calamari, lobster bisque, grilled sardines and moon cakes. On the Right: a visit to the San Francisco Modern Museum of Art where she gave an insightful critique, “I like it…it’s red.”



  • Erin

    This looks perfect for lunch with my mother-in-law this coming weekend! Beautiful pictures as always!

  • Jullie m

    Num!!!!!! I’m going to bookmark this one.

  • Mark

    This looks divine! Simple yet it looks delicious! Can’t wait to make it this weekend. Thanks

  • erica

    I’ve been to Waterbar when I was in SF for a culinary convention and I absolutely love the creativity they have to offer! Beautiful food. I will be making this soon. As always your post are always mouthwatering.

  • harper

    Oh my lord! I love everything on this plate.

  • mary Mac A

    Once again drooling on my iPad. I’m seriously in love with you. haha. What lens are you using these days. The photos are gooooorgeous!

  • the husband

    Want…to…go…back….must eat….more….

  • Heather McClees (@TheSoulfulSpoon)

    Hi! I just found your blog and LOVE it! I had to comment on this recipe because its the tastiest recipe I’ve seen and the most unique, in quiet some time!:) I’m pinning this and can’t wait to make it. Buying lump crab meat is always a splurge for me:)

    • In Sock Monkey Slippers

      Thanks glad you liked it! Same here, lump crab meat is a splurge but totally worth it!

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