Last week we posted the first in our Delaware-inspired cuisine series with a very special crab cake recipe from one of our Lewes neighbors. One key point we made was that buying fresh local crab meat and adding a few ingredients can create a great main dish that’s a lot cheaper and much less labor-intensive than steaming or boiling whole crabs and picking out the meat yourself.
This week we’re extending that theme with another easy recipe for your fresh-picked crab, along with two side dishes that celebrate the summer harvest from Delmarva farms. You can prepare it in 30 minutes or so for a healthy and delicious dinner of Crab Norfolk, Grilled Peaches and Watermelon Salad. This recipe will serve 4 people.
The best way to pull this together is to prepare each of the dishes almost to completion, then spend the last few minutes finishing them up.
ONE TIP though: The watermelon salad can be made right before you serve it but it’s best if you make it an hour or two before dinner and refrigerate it so the flavors blend.
Serve it this way or consider getting a loaf of good bread and toasting it with butter and a touch of garlic.
Preheat the oven to 375
- A large, wide skillet or pot with a wide base
- A large bowl
- A pound of fresh lump crabmeat, picked and cooked (please check where it’s from – buying crab from somewhere overseas or from far away is kind of ridiculous when you can get it fresh from Delmarva waters)
- One red bell pepper
- One green bell pepper
- One red onion
- Tablespoon of minced garlic (optional)
- Fresh dill, or dill from the spice section at the supermarket
- Old Bay seasoning
- 1 stick of salted butter
- Good olive oil
- 3 lemons
- Italian bread crumbs
- Chop up the bell peppers into quarter-inch pieces.
- Chop up the red onion into similar sized pieces.
- Pour olive oil into the skillet, and mix in the peppers and onion and sauté on low heat. for 5 minutes or so, until the onion is translucent, keeping the peppers crisp.
- Put the fresh lump crab in the bowl and sprinkle in the Old Bay and lots of dill.
- Add the juice of one lemon to the crab.
- Using your hands, and being gentle with the crab, massage it so there’s a dusting of Old Bay on every lump – since the crab meat was cooked before it was taken from the shells you can sample it to make sure you’ve got just the right amount of Old Bay. Add the Old Bay gradually and keep sampling until it’s just right, and be careful not to put in too much.
- Add a full stick of salted butter to the peppers and onions, and the minced garlic if you’d like, and heat it on low until the butter melts.
- Turn off the fire under the peppers, onion and butter and add the crab. Stir it gently to protect the crab lumps and make sure it’s all blended together, then and let it sit.
- 4 fresh local peaches, semi-firm and at the peak of flavor
- Red pepper flakes
- Olive oil
- Slice the peaches in half and discard the pits.
- Rub olive oil on the insides.
- Add a few flakes of red pepper flakes.
- Set them aside on a plate.
- A big bowl
- Fresh local watermelon – one good indicator of flavor is a melon with a pronounced beige spot on one side, which indicates it sat upright and matured to ripeness before it was picked
- Diced jalapeno peppers
- Fresh squeezed juice from two lemons
- 1 or 2 cups of chopped cilantro
- Crumbled or cubed feta cheese
- Cut the watermelon into bite-sized cubes (or balls if you have one of those groovy scoopers).
- Dice the jalapeno peppers.
- Dice the cilantro.
- Put the bite-sized watermelon pieces in the bowl.
- Add the cilantro and gently stir or mix with your hands.
- Add the jalapeno peppers gradually, tasting as you go, to make sure you’ve got just the right amount of heat.
- Gentle mix some more, then squeeze in the lemon juice before another gentle mixing.
25 minutes before you’re ready to serve:
- Transfer the Crab Norfolk mixture into a casserole dish and put it in the preheated oven . . . and check on it every 5 minutes with a gentle stir.
- Pour a very small amount of olive oil in a skillet and heat it until it smokes.
10 minutes before you’re ready to serve:
- Put the peaches, inside-side-down, in the hot skillet so you get a good sear . . . then check them every minute or two. If you don’t see a pleasant darkening to the flesh, turn up the heat . . . but lower the heat if they’re smoking too much or cooking too fast.
- Pull the casserole dish of crab out of the oven, give it a gentle stir, then sprinkle the Italian bread crumbs on top.
- Start the broiler, and when you see the flames put the casserole dish of crab underneath it so it’s a few inches from the flames.
- Watch it closely, until the top is bubbly and brown.
When you’re ready for dinner:
- Put salt and pepper on the table so individual diners can use as much as they’d like.
- Cut the other two lemons so everyone has a good-sized slice to squeeze on to the crab if they’d like to.
- Scoop the Crab Norfolk into individual ramekins or onto plates.
- Add the grilled peaches.
- Sprinkle the feta cheese onto the watermelon salad.