Delightfully crisp on the outside and decadently creamy on the inside, crab cakes are a crowd pleaser when mealtime arrives. Finding the perfect pairings for your crab cakes doesn't have to be a chore, even if you're intent on healthy choices. Focus on fresh, filling ingredients for your sides and your humble cakes will be show-stoppers in no time.
Crab Cake Tips and Tricks
The deep-fried, mayonnaise-rich options you might order at your local dockside restaurant with crab cakes aren't cutting it in the calorie department, but a few simple swaps keep your cakes refreshingly light. Light mayonnaise or creamy dressing doesn't sacrifice taste, and unseasoned Japanese-style panko bread crumbs are a low-fat alternative to the more oily traditional bread crumbs. You can prepare the crab mixture and even form the patties up to a day ahead of time, and refrigerate until you're ready to bake. No need to deep fry; you can still get that signature crispness through baking or shallow pan frying.
Light side dishes keep your crab cakes in the spotlight while leaving guests satisfied, not stuffed. When summertime fruits are at the peak of ripeness, craft a festive fruit-and-vegetable salad that's light and nutrient-rich. Unexpected pairings like spicy arugula with sweet watermelon or crisp watercress with delicate in-season blackberries complement the citrus kick of your crab cakes without overloading the calorie bank. A sprinkling of a citrus-based vinaigrette or a sweet, syrupy balsamic bring the two features together in healthy harmony.
Fast and Filling
Heartier meal pairings don't need to translate into nutrient-deprived empty calories. Instead of relying on classic fare like whipped mashed potatoes or french fries as companions for your crab cakes, put your own healthy spin on the traditional options to create a balanced, well-rounded meal. Roasted potatoes or sweet potatoes crisp up in the oven with just a splash of olive oil and a dusting of your favorite seasonings. Seasoned rice mixes can be heavy on sodium, so experiment with lighter carbohydrates that have more nutritional value. Couscous delivers a flavor punch without a huge caloric dent, and grains like barley, brown rice or even protein-rich quinoa are suitable plate partners for crab cakes.
If your child is skeptical about eating crab, entice him with delicious, recognizable sides that are healthy and fun to eat. French fries are a side-dish dream for children, but their high fat and salt content might make you shiver. Instead, opt for slivers of butternut squash sprayed with a light coating of cooking oil and a pinch of salt. When roasted in the oven, the squash crisps up just like the fries kids know and love. Serve creamy dressing for dipping. For a finger-food option, use cookie cutters to cut shapes from summer fruit like watermelon, cantaloupe and honeydew melon. A little tray of sweet citrus dressing for dipping turns meal time interactive for kids.
- "Cooking Light"; Recipe Makeover: Lighter Crab Cakes; Kathy Kitchens Downie; May 2010
- "I Love Crab Cakes!"; Tom Douglas; 2006
- "Weight Watcher's New Complete Cookbook"; Weight Watchers; 2006
- Nick White/Digital Vision/Getty Images