“Play with your food” artichoke and crab salad with strawberry basil vinaigrette

There are few items more fun to eat than the artichoke with its edible leaves that must be plucked with fingers to be eaten. The prize for all this effort? A tender edible heart.

“Play with your food” artichoke and crab salad with strawberry basil vinaigrette is the perfect refreshing lunch on a warm sunny day.

Here are the ingredients you will need to create this tasty salad for your next dining experience out in your backyard patio.

Loni’s “Play with your food” artichoke and crab salad with strawberry basil vinaigrette
makes 4 servings

Main Salad

  • 4-5 artichokes (I used five since that was how many came with my shipment from Live Earth Farm)
  • 16 oz of fresh crab meat
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon of mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard (I like the kind with whole mustard seeds in them)
  • a pinch of grey/sea salt
  • a pinch of freshly ground pepper
  • some salad greens to dress up the plate

Strawberry Basil Vinaigrette

  • 10 strawberries
  • 10 fresh basil leaves
  • 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons of aged balsamic vinegar (I like to use vinegar that has been aged at least 8 years)
  • 1 tablespoon of freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • a pinch of salt
Start by cleaning the artichokes. Look for ones with fresh leaves. Trim away any of the dried out leaves near the stem of the artichoke.
Cut the tops of each of the leaves of the artichoke so that it is easier to handle when being eaten. I like to do this with a pair of kitchen shears.
The use a knife to cut off the top of the artichoke. Your artichoke should look like this when you are finished.
Place the artichokes in a steamer for about 15-20 minutes or until the leaves come off easily. You can boil artichokes as well but I like to steam mine as I think it retains more of the nutrients this way.
While the artichokes are steaming, wash the basil and strawberries for the vinaigrette.
Slice up the strawberries and place them in a mortar and pestle along with the lightly chopped basil leaves.
Depending on the size of your mortar and pestle, I recommend you split the strawberries and basil in two and make two batches.
Add the olive oil, balsamic vinegar and salt and continue to pulverize until your vinaigrette looks like this. Do the second batch and then let both settle as you move onto the crab.
Place the crab in a medium size bowl.
By this time, your artichokes should be ready to take out of the steamer. Do this carefully as they will be hot. Carefully spread apart the leaves.
Carefully remove each of the hearts. Remove any purple leaves you see and the hairy portion covering the choke.
Chop the heart portion of the artichoke. Make sure you carefully transport the leaves to the salad for plating...maintaining the beautiful flower shape.
Add the chopped artichoke hearts to the crab. Add the mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, salt, pepper and 3 tablespoons of the strawberry basil vinaigrette.
Place a bed of lettuce on a plate, transfer the artichoke leaves onto the bed of lettuce. In the center, place 1/4 of the artichoke and crab mixture. Drizzle some of the remaining strawberry basil vinaigrette on top.

I would recommend a Riesling or Sauvignon Blanc pairing with this salad. An unoaked Chardonnay may also work well. These pairings will accentuate the fruitiness of this salad. If you have a buttery Chardonnay, the meatiness of the crab will be emphasized. This is not my preference, but it may be yours.

You want to eat this dish by taking one of the artichoke leaves, placing a forkful of the artichoke and crab mixture on top and eat it as you would a nacho chip with dip on top. Make sure you only eat the soft portion of the leaf. Have a bowl available to throw away the inedible parts of the leaf.

This is a salad that is sophisticated in taste but is meant to be eaten playfully.

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