This is a summer salad if there ever was one. It’s perfect when the temperature soars, as it’s been doing here in the Carolinas, so this seems like the perfect dinner, giving me a delicious, quick, cold meal loaded with flavor, giving me just that little extra time I need to unpack more boxes…Yippee!!! I don’t quite know why people don’t seem to enjoy imitation crab meat more frequently. It’s good. So many of our perceptions about food, are in our heads. So, I think when we hear “crab meat”, that’s exactly what we think we’re going to get…we ignore the “imitation” part. We shouldn’t. No, I don’t think it tastes like crab meat. Sea Legs™ or whatever you want to call imitation crab meat, has a mild, slightly sweet flavor and can be used in a variety of recipe options. An additional bonus is that they are quite low in calories, while offering you a nice amount of protein. They’re wonderful thrown in a salad, added to pasta, soup or used as a filling. Unlike canned tuna, Sea Legs™ don’t seem to get “fishy” when heated. Quite the contrary—they’re really, really good. This is a riff on my mother’s Summer Shrimp Salad. It makes a great pasta salad, too…very flexible little minx, this recipe.
A couple of things—I use Miracle Whip™. I think this is just much better made with it, but if you feel you must use mayonnaise, FINE! But, add the larger amount of lemon juice and just a little bit of sugar to the dressing. —I like the addition of the hot sauce, but don’t feel it’s necessary. —This is a great base for a pasta salad, too. Add about 2 cups cooked, small shells. I add the extra lemon juice and you’ll need a bit of salt, too.
This goes together in no time. Combine the lemon-yogurt dressing ingredients in the bottom of a bowl that will hold all the ingredients. Then, just dump all the salad ingredients on top and stir it all together. Okay, that’s not quite how I did this, but that’s the easiest way to mix this up. This is best made a few hours ahead. And there’s no need to thaw the peas, just toss them into the bowl along with the Sea Legs™, the dressing and toss!
And that’s all there is to this…fast and loads of flavor.
Sea Legs™ & Sweet Pea Salad with Lemon-Yogurt Dressing
- 8 ounces Imitation Crab Meat (Sea Legs™, etc.), torn into strips or chopped
- 1 carrot, finely shredded
- 3/4 cup finely diced English cucumbers
- 3/4 cup frozen baby peas
- 1/2 cup finely diced celery
- 1/2 cup finely grated red onion
- 1 teaspoon finely minced frozen lemongrass
- 1 teaspoon finely minced Thai basil
- 3/4 cup plain Greek-style yogurt
- 3 tablespoon Miracle Whip™ (I use ‘light’—see NOTE)
- 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest (from 1 lemon)
- 1-2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 1/4 teaspoon yellow mustard
- 3-6 drops hot sauce (optional)
Combine all the salad ingredients in a medium bowl; toss until combined. Combine the yogurt, Miracle Whip, lemon zest, juice and mustard (and the hot sauce, if using); stir well. Pour the dressing over; stir until thoroughly combined. Chill for at least 2 hours before serving. Serve in a bun, by itself, rolled into a tortilla, however you like. Keeps for at least 4-5 days in the fridge.
NOTE: I think that this is just much better made with Miracle Whip™, but if you prefer to use mayonnaise, add the larger amount of lemon juice and a large pinch of sugar to the dressing. This can be a great pasta salad. Combine 2 cups cooked small shell pasta together with the salad; add additional lemon juice and salt to the pasta. You may substitute an equal amount of cooked, chopped shrimp for the imitation crab.
Sea Legs™ & Sweet Pea Salad with Lemon-Yogurt Dressing Recipe©Marcia Lahens 2017. All rights reserved.
If, after a couple a days, the mixture becomes slightly “watery”, don’t sweat it. Stir 1-2 tablespoons of instant potato flakes into the salad. Chill it for several hours to allow the potato flakes to absorb the liquid. You’ll never know they’re there. No one else will, either.
This version of the salad is in that Asian-flavor profile. If you prefer Italian, I have made this with sun-dried tomatoes, pancetta, prosciutto or bacon, and diced artichoke bottoms. To complete the flavor profile, I added shredded basil, finely minced fennel bulb, instead of the celery and a couple of cloves of roasted garlic. For a Latino flavor profile, add some diced jicama, corn (omit the peas), lime (instead of lemon) and add a good bit of chopped cilantro. I’ll try to make either of those soon and post actual recipes for you. That might be helpful, huh? But, whatever option you choose, it will be delicious.
And finally, this makes a great little hors d’oeuvres, too.