When I was a kid, I was the pickiest of eaters; almost borderline OCD with my weird food tendencies. Thankfully [or else I'd have no friends] my weirder days have passed, and now I generally eat like a normal human being. I'd even go so far as to say I'm somewhat adventurous [though I won't be eating any bugs out of my own volition]. But I do have one weird quirk: I like hiding vegetables in my cooking. Let me explain…
Since I loathed quite literally everything green that came in food form as a child [i'd pick out the dried basil and oregano in a pizza sauce if given enough time], I learned how to eat my veggies in creative ways. When I was a teacher, I had a weekly cooking class with a group of students. I began adding spinach to smoothies, and it blended in so well, the kids would never know a drop of healthiness was in there! Muahahaha, I'd mutter to myself. Sadly, I'm still the one who needs tricking. Don't get me wrong, I can eat a healthy spinach or kale salad and enjoy it, but for some reason, I can eat three or four times the amount of healthy greens, as long as they're hidden in the meal I'm making. Here's my latest concoction, Spinach Crab Cakes. [which are DEELISHUS, mind you]
Spinach Crab Cakes
- 16oz. jumbo lump crab meat [I use what Costco sells, and though I don't necessarily buy all my seafood there, their price point on crab meat is unbeatable]
- 2 eggs, whisked
- 1 cup panko bread crumbs
- 2-3 cups baby spinach
- 1/4 cup vegenaise [you can also use mayo, of course]
- 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, plus more for frying
- 2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
- 1/4 cup fresh parsley
- pinch red pepper flakes [optional]
- 1 Tablespoon chia seeds [kicks up the healthy factor but totally optional]
- 1 teaspoon sea salt: I LOVE Maldon] and pepper to taste
Preheat Oven to 400F
Combine baby spinach, vegenaise, olive oil, garlic, parsley and pepper flakes in a blender and puree. Add pureed mixture to a bowl with crab meat and eggs and fold in until combined. Add bread crumbs, chia seeds, salt and pepper and lightly fold in until incorporated. If the mixture is too dry or isn't coming together, add another tablespoon of olive oil and combine.
Form the mixture into 8-12 patties [depending on if they're an entree or appetizer] and set aside. Heat 2 tablespoons [or just enough to cover your pan] of olive oil on medium high. Add 4-5 crab cakes [don't overcrowd!] and cook for 3-4 minutes per side, or until golden brown [I like a crunch so I brown them longer, and the spinach will make the cakes look browner than usual, but I promise they're not burnt nor do they taste that way!]. Once all the crab cakes are browned, transfer them to a baking sheet [I line mine with a silpat, but parchment or foil work just fine] and cook in the oven for another 3-4 minutes. This step may not be necessary if you made smaller, thinner cakes, but the ones I made were on the thicker side, so I took extra precautions. Again, I prefer crispier cakes, so if you prefer a softer texture, pan frying should be more than enough.
Serve immediately with garlic herb aioli. Any remaining crab cakes can be refrigerated for a couple days, or frozen.
The crab cakes are pretty fantastic on their own, and I really love that bright green color from the spinach! But the sauce just takes this to an entirely new level.
Garlic Herb Aioli
- 1 cup vegenaise [or mayo]
- 2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
- bunch of assorted fresh herbs [this time I used basil, parsley, and thyme
- 1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- Salt & Pepper
Combine all the ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth. Try not to eat the entire batch in one sitting.
These crab cakes make great appetizers for a party [they would be perfect in tiny, miniature size!], or as an alternative to a traditional burger [top with avocados and the aioli, yum.]. And let's not forget they have lots of healthy greens packed in, so you can feel pretty good about yourself when you've had three or four in one sitting!