Monday, June 21, 2010

Bermuda Avocado and Crabmeat Salad

Dedicated to my friend Byron Gustafson,
my first and very accomplished accompanist

Serves 4

Two avocados, pitted with skin removed, cut in half long way
two 6 oz cans or a large (approximately 12 oz) package of fresh crab meat
green tops of 4 (about 2 TBLS) chopped scallions
2 TLBS diced red pepper
3 TLBS mayonnaise

1 bunch red leaf lettuce, rinsed and drained
small bunch Arugula leaves, rinsed and drained
1 cucumber, cleaned, peeled and sliced diagonally
or English cucumber, cleaned, not peeled
½ lb cooked asparagus marinated in Italian salad dressing
4 scallions, top edges and roots trimmed
four thin slivered red onion (very thin slices)
12-16 black olives
5-6 cleaned, trimmed and sliced radishes
a dozen cherry or grape tomatoes
Italian salad dressing

Drain liquid from crab meat. Mix crabmeat with chopped scallion leafy greens, red pepper and Mayonnaise. Divide into 4 equal parts. Fill each halved avocado with ¼ of the crab meat salad. Cover and refrigerate.

Trim stems of asparagus. Cook in salted boiling water for 7 minutes. Drain asparagus and immediately place in a bowl with the Italian salad dressing. Allow to marinate for at least one hour, but as long as six. The longer it sits the more flavorful it becomes.

Break lettuce and arugula into bite size pieces. Spread on a large serving platter or tray. Arrange cucumber slices and slivered onion slices on top of salad greens. Place the four crab meat filled avocados on lettuce. Layer the marinated asparagus curving around and between the avocados. Arrange sliced radishes, black olives and cherry or grape tomatoes around the perimeter of the platter. Top salad with ½ C Italian Salad Dressing.

Italian Salad Dressing

¾ C salad oil
3/8 rice wine vinegar (or red wine vinegar)
optional: 1 TLBS honey or corn syrup
½ tsp garlic powder
½ tsp oregano
½ tsp basil
½ tsp parsley
½ tsp crushed rosemary
¼ tsp freshly ground pepper

Mix all ingredients in a blender. Reserve a third of dressing as a marinade for the cooked asparagus. Use the remaining dressing for greens on the platter.

©Wilma Carolyn Johnson Short

NOTES: When I went to Bermuda with a friend many years ago we ate in a roadside restaurant that overlooked the brilliant aqua ocean and volcanic “sculptures” on the white sandy beach. I ordered this salad which was a delightful lunch. It was preceded by a small bowl of French Onion Soup. What I had that day was a half avocado stuffed and piled high, I might add, with delicious crab meat salad. I thought it to be one of the most unique combinations of flavors and textures – the smooth buttery texture of avocado meat and the chunky, stringy texture of crab meat melded together.

When we returned home I invited my travel mate and two friends we met while in Bermuda, over for lunch. I imitated the stuffed avocado plate, but added the marinated asparagus, salad greens, and other vegetables. We had a wonderful time laughing and reminiscing about our week at Willowbank, the hotel where we all stayed. The food and the company made us feel as though we were right back on that clean and colorful tropical island. We shared the pictures we had taken of the brightly painted turquoise and salmon pink stucco houses, the soaring church steeples against the clear cobalt sky.

I believe food is just about the best souvenir one can take back,either in the form of a memory, or some item unique to the locale. I somehow managed to pack a case of Ginger Beer into my suitcase to bring home. Years later when I was married, my husband found a stray can of the Ginger Beer. It must have been at least 10 years old. I didn't even know it existed. I told him it was too old and probably corroded on the inside. He drank it anyway and loved it. I might still have a bottle of Outerbridge's Sherry Pepper Sauce on a shelf. Antique food – what a unique symbol of my good old time in Bermuda.

Once while visiting Byron in Manhattan, he took me to a gourmet delicatessen and introduced me to arugula, informing me that it added a little extra something to an ordinary salad. And does it ever!

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