For everyday dining, I don’t usually serve an appetizer. But for guests and parties and special occasions, I’ll trot out a few to keep everybody happy. They are nice to nibble on while the main attraction finishes cooking, with a cocktail or a glass of bubbly in hand, and no one goes hungry before the meal is served.
This crab dip is versatile and great any time of the year, although in winter, the light, citrusy note is particularly welcome as a contrast to heartier cold-weather dishes. A light hand with the mayonnaise ensures that the flavor of the crab shines through. You can heap the dip in a bowl and surround it with a platter of accompaniments, or serve it in small individual bowls, with baskets of crackers, bread and raw vegetables on the side.
This dip travels really well – you can make it up to a few days before, it packs up quickly to take on the road, and no cutlery is necessary (although a knife for spreading is nice). For a fun twist, pre-cut your bread into shapes, add a few leaves of watercress, and turn the dip into crab sandwiches. With the addition of a few other small bites, these little nibbles make the perfect picnic.
Lemony Crab Dip
Serves 4-6 as an appetizer. Adapted from Coastal Living, here.
2 1/2 cups fresh lump crabmeat, picked over for shells and gently flaked
1 cup finely chopped shallot
1/2 cup finely chopped celery
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon zest
1/8 teaspoon white pepper
1/8 teaspoon celery seed
kosher salt, to taste
scant 1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
In a large bowl, combine first eight ingredients and toss well. Add in mayonnaise and stir until fully incorporated. Top with chopped parsley and refrigerate in a covered container for at least two hours. Dip will keep for up to three days, refrigerated.
Serve with baguette slices, crackers and assorted raw vegetables.