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For 12 appetizers or 6 main-dish servings for lunch or brunch
The rich but subtle flavor of avocado is a marvelous foil for the taste of fresh shellfish, especially on a warm summer's day when coolness and freshness are so welcome in a lunch dish. This recipe, along with the separate one for the spicy vinaigrette, more than fills the bill.
3 avocados, 7 to 8 ounces each, preferably the Hass variety
freshly ground black pepper
2 cups spicy vinaigrette
1 pound jumbo lump crabmeat,** picked through
6 sprigs of fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley (if for a main-dish) or 12 sprigs (if for an appetizer), for garnish
*South Louisiana's Creole tomatoes are preferred for this recipe, although other good, peak-of-season regional varieties can be used.
FOR A MAIN DISH
Trim the ends from the tomatoes and cut each tomato into three slices, each about 3/4-inch thick. Cut each slice in half crosswise.
Cut each avocado in half lengthwise, peel the halves, and cut each of them lengthwise into three slices.
On each of six chilled dinner plates, alternate three tomato half-slices (placed on their sides) with three avocado slices (also on their sides) on one half of the plate. Season each portion with a total of ¼ teaspoon kosher salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper.
In a large mixing bowl, vigorously whisk 1 cup vinaigrette to blend ingredients well, then promptly add the crabmeat to the bowl, mixing very gently with a spoon to keep the lumps intact.
Divide the crabmeat among the six plates, mounding it on the opposite side of the plate from the sliced tomatoes and avocados. Vigorously whisk 1 cup vinaigrette and drizzle a portion (about 2½ tablespoons) over each serving of sliced tomatoes and avocados, and garnish with a parsley sprig.
FOR AN APPETIZER
Trim ends of each tomato and cut each into four slices, each about a half-inch thick.
Cut each avocado in half lengthwise, peel the halves, and cut each half lengthwise into four slices.
In the center of each of 12 chilled salad plates, arrange one tomato slice. Fan two avocado slices over each tomato slice and season lightly with kosher salt and pepper.
In a large mixing bowl, vigorously whisk 1 cup vinaigrette to blend all ingredients, then promptly add the crabmeat to the bowl, mixing very gently with a spoon to keep the lumps intact.
Vigorously whisk 1 cup vinaigrette and drizzle about 1 tablespoon over each serving of tomato and avocado. Spoon a portion of the crabmeat over the edge of the tomato and avocado, allowing most of it to fall onto the bare plate, and decorate with a parsley sprig. Serve immediately.
For 2 cups
The versatility of vinaigrette goes far beyond its compatibility with green salads. This one can serve as a marinade for fresh crab claws, boiled shrimp and for fish or other seafood that are to be grilled. It would also be a bracing dressing for potato salad or a cold pasta salad.
NOTES Prepare the vinaigrette at least one day before using to allow the flavors to develop. It may be prepared up to three days in advance.
A medium-size nonreactive mixing bowl
A metal whisk
1/4 cup minced red onions
1/4 cup very finely chopped red sweet peppers
1/4 cup very finely chopped green sweet peppers
2 tablespoons minced fresh garlic
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1 and 1/2 teaspoons crushed red peppers
1 teaspoon dried basil leaves
1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup red-wine vinegar
2 teaspoons mild-flavored honey, such as clover honey
In a medium-size, nonreactive mixing bowl, combine all the ingredients, whisking until well blended. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
If the oil congeals, return the vinaigrette to room temperature and whisk vigorously immediately before using.