Bistro Crab Stack Salad Recipe, Holiday Entertaining Menu 1st Course | What’s Cooking
Our chefs, Wit & Wonder Gifts team and blog editor take the stress out of planning a full-course menu that’s memorable (in a good way) and won’t keep you stuck in the kitchen all night. In a special What’s Cooking series, we’re serving up six perfectly paired, delicious recipes and inspiration for holiday entertaining—from drinks and dessert to décor and gifts.
Now that conversation—and some amazing cocktails—are flowing, you’re ready for the first course on our menu, and it’s definitely a looker. A bit of dicing is the hardest part of this wow-factor, towering salad. Fresh avocado, tomato, cucumber and mango all get pulled together with our seriously tasty Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette (the same dressing used in the popular Cilantro Lime Chicken Salad at our Nordstrom Cafe). Tangy, refreshing and topped with crab, this salad sets a high bar for the next two courses to come.
Bistro Crab Stack
from the Nordstrom Flavors Cookbook
“When I was cooking in San Diego, salads and light dishes were the most popular items on the menu, forcing me to create new specials to meet the demand. The colorful composed salad, stacked in successive layers, will make you look like a star chef at any gathering. You will need four short lengths of PVC pipe to help mold the stacks. While metal molds are available at some professional-kitchen supply shops, you can have the PVC pipes cut to order at your local hardware superstore.” —Chef Richard Silva
Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette
3 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon honey
1 small clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon minced chipotle chile in adobo sauce
Pinch of kosher salt
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon canola oil
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro, patted dry with paper towels and firmly packed
To make the cilantro lime vinaigrette in a blender combine the vinegar, lime juice, honey, garlic, chile and salt and process until smooth. With the machine running, add the oil in a thin, steady stream to form an emulsion. Add the cilantro and process until the vinaigrette is deep green with small flecks of cilantro. Taste and adjust the seasoning, then set aside.
Bistro Crab Stack
1 ripe avocado, halved, pitted, peeled, and cut into 1/4-inch dice (about 3/4 cup)
About 3/4 cup Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette
1 ripe tomato, cored, seeded, and cut into 1/4-inch dice (about 3/4 cup)
1/4 seedless (English) cucumber, halved lengthwise, any tiny seeds removed, and cut into 1/4-inch dice (about 3/4 cup)
1/2 ripe mango, peeled, pitted and cut into 1/4-inch dice (about 3/4 cup)
1/2 pound jumbo lump crabmeat, picked over for shell bits
2 tablespoons microgreens or chopped fresh chives
You’ll need 4 pieces of PVC pipe each 3 inches in diameter and 4 inches long. Stand 1 piece in the center of each of your serving plates.
In a small bowl, gently toss the avocado with 2 tablespoons of the vinaigrette. Divide the avocado evenly among the molds, gently pressing it into the bottom of each mold to create a thin layer. Place the tomato, cucumber, and mango in 3 separate small bowls. Add 2 tablespoons of the vinaigrette to each bowl and toss gently. Divide the tomato, cucumber, and mango, in that order, evenly among the molds, gently pressing after each addition to created colorful layered stacks.
Divide the crabmeat (do not dress with vinaigrette) among the molds, layering it on top. Carefully pull the molds up and away. Drizzle the remaining vinaigrette around each stack and sprinkle the greens on the stacks. Serve immediately.
Editor’s Note: As a composed salad, this crab stack puts on a show as a formal, generously portioned first course, but it would be equally delicious as hors d’oeuvres for a cocktail party. I’d mix the diced veggies and vinaigrette and spoon them over crostini, top them with the crab and chives, and you’d get mobile, mingle-friendly canapés—whatever size your crowd.
Download a printable PDF of this Bistro Crab Stack Salad recipe, and find more recipes to love in our What’s Cooking series. Have a favorite recipe from our restaurants or cookbooks that you’d like to see featured? Let us know in the comments!
Photos & commentary by Jeff Powell