Thursday, July 25, 2013

Southern Crab, Avocado and Basil Green Goddess Rice Salad, Summer just got better.

OK I know I know stop posting about rice Forrest! First it's that risotto dish that from the hits is not doing well in the readership polls....sorry? But now a rice salad, I mean come on this is 2013 we don't eat rice salad in the hallowed halls of foodie America anymore or the carb conscious society we live in. Well then hold on my foodie friends cause I have a whole new twist on bringing back a little life to an overlooked starch. And carbs aren't bad they just need to be eaten in moderation.

Now when I was growing up in the USA we as a country ate a lot of white rice. Probably still do. But in my house it did not make major appearances on the dinner table unless we were having Chinese food or a specific dish that screamed for it. The reason was my father had eaten so much rice growing up he never wanted to eat it that often. So other starches graced our dinner table and rice was a reserved treat.

However, generally in the South rice is something that regionally is either very widely eaten or not really eaten at all. Coastal areas in the Carolinas and Virginia as well as the Gulf states and New Orleans in particular are bastions of rice culinary prowess. I mean Mondays are red beans and rice day in New Orleans and what Carolina seafood buffet would not be graced with some flavored or dirty rice. And of course tex-mex cuisine is full of red rice dishes.

But white rice as we eat it mostly in the USA is a buttered side dish best enjoyed with salt and pepper or smothered in some kind of gravy and served along with a protein. Chicken and rice comes to mind as does  Pork Chops and onions. ( Remember the Brady Bunch and Peter's "Pork chops....and Applesauce".  Well either way it's sort of a filling side with a rather bland flavor profile.

Another somewhat forgotten way of serving rice comes from the finest luncheon parties of the ladies of the American South. Yes in the 20's 30's and up through the 1970's rice salads were a major player on menus offered during ladies auxiliary meetings all over the South. In the low country of South Carolina rice salads featuring seafoods were very prevalent. Usually lightly flavored rice with a delicate flavor was mounded on a bed of tender lettuces and topped with a choice of seafoods or shellfish and finished off with something like canned or poached asparagus or fresh tomatoes and maybe a hard boiled egg.

Well I was entertaining a few ladies the other day and decided that I would take this idea and turn it around in a modern way. So to make my rice salad I thought about flavoring the rice more and adding the seafood ( I chose to use crab) directly into the mixture.

Now also in keeping with my love of green summery foods I thought I would try and flavor the rice with a herbal dressing. But I didn't stop there, I also added something I knew would add to the creaminess of the rice with out adding oil or mayonnaise, avocado! Yes avocado and rice actually go quite well together and it certainly goes with crab.

Then instead of serving it on a bed of lettuce I thought about turning it on it's head and topping it off with some greens, fancy tomatoes and a touch of goat cheese. All in all it turned out pretty darned good. And it looked like this.

Fancy huh? Well it's actually super easy and quick. It made for a delicious warm evening dinner and had everyone very happy. So give it a try and give your dinner time a little southern seafood magic. Enjoy ya'll.

Southern Crab and Avocado and Basil Green Goddess Rice Salad

1 1/2 cups jasmine rice
3 cups either water or seafood stock flavored with some garlic powder and salt
1 can of jumbo lump crab drained
2 med avocados
about 1 1/2 cup packed basil leaves
3 garlic cloves crushed
4 tablespoons lemon juice
snow peas cut both into small pieces and longwise in half
4 green onions sliced on the bias separate the whites and greens
1/4 cup good quality olive oil
1/4 cup of water
salt and pepper
small yellow or red tomatoes sliced in half
1 cup baby arugula
crumbled goat cheese such as Cherve
Note* ( you could add finely chopped red pepper as well that would bump up the color and goes well with the crab but I didn't have any)


Rinse the rice a couple of times in a strainer under cold water to remove starch ( helps rice not stick)
Add the stock or water, the garlic powder and big pinch of salt and the rice to a pot
Bring to boil and let cook about 13 to 15 mins till done remove from heat and fluff with fork.
While the rice is cooking peel and chop the avocado and place it, the basil, the green onion whites, the garlic, lemon juice into a blender
Start to blend and slowly and add olive oil in a drizzle till it becomes rich and creamy and about the consistency of sour cream. If too thick thin using the water a little at a time until you get to where you want it to be. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
Add to the rice and combine. Stir in the greens of the green onion and the snow peas
Taste and season to taste
Stir in the crab gently
Check again for seasoning.

To serve use a mold and place in the center of the plate and carefully un-mold on the plate
Then top with the arugula, tomato pieces goat cheese crumbles season with maldon and drizzle a little olive and balsamic vinegar over the greens and around the plate as garnish.

Serve immediately. ( You could make the "timbals" ahead of time and using a spatula place them on the plate when ready to serve ), Enjoy Ya'll.

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