By contributing writer Mary Cressler
We had a pretty hot June by Portland standards. There were some days when it was just too hot to cook or even turn on the grill for that matter (that’s rare for me!). On those days, I just want to eat something light and fresh, yet substantial enough to constitute dinner.
That’s when I turn to hearty appetizers to feed the family. I find that dips you can spread on toasted baguette slices, or crostini, are ideal. They’re almost like cute little open-faced sandwiches, and you can add whatever kind of toppings or dips you want.
And I love fresh crab, but I find that many crab dips have loads of mayonnaise. I’ve never been one for mayo and usually avoid dips containing it like the plague. I do, however, seek dishes that provide a similar level of creaminess and richness. And you can achieve that without mayo!
This dip is entirely mayonnaise free but still has incredible texture and flavor. Making it with blended white beans and avocado gives it a smooth creamy texture and provides an added protein kick. Topped with fresh crab meat, this crostini recipe is a light and healthy dish perfect for a summer night. It’s versatile enough to be served as an appetizer and can be substantial enough for a light dinner. It’s fresh and has a great mix of textures that come from the pureed beans, creamy avocado, and crusty bread. Yum!
- 1 baguette, sliced at a diagonal to create long ¼-inch slices
- Extra virgin olive oil, for coating the baguette slices
- 1 can white beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 tablespoon shallot, roughly chopped
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, for the dip
- 1 avocado
- ½ teaspoon salt
- fresh ground pepper, to taste
- ½ lb fresh lump crab meat
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
- Brush both sides of the bread with olive oil (just to coat) and arrange on a baking sheet in a single layer. Bake until crusty, about 5-10 minutes.
- In a food processor, add the white beans, shallot, lemon zest, lemon juice, and 3-4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil. Puree until smooth (texture should be similar to creamy hummus).
- In a med-large bowl, roughly mash the avocado.
- Fold the bean mixture into the avocado.
- Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Spoon 1-2 tablespoons of the bean avocado mixture onto a baguette slice.
- Top with some of the crab meat and a fresh drizzle of olive oil and sprinkle of salt.
With this dish, you get a combination of flavors from the toasty bread, fresh lemon, creamy and rich bean and avocado dip, and sweet delicate crab meat. Stay away from red wines for this, especially those high in tannins. They will overpower the delicate flavors from the crab and won’t meld well with the dip.
We’re looking at fresh, crisp, and acidic wines for this. We tested it with a couple different Sauvignon Blancs and two styles of Chardonnay (one oaked, one unoaked). I thought the Chardonnays would match great with the textures from the dip and toasty flavors of the baguette. The Sauvignon Blancs would offer fresh lemon flavors and strong acidity to cut through the creamy dip and brighten things up.
The Davis Bynum Chardonnay, River West Vineyard 2013, Sonoma County ($25), which was aged in French oak barrels, had lots of baked apples, bright lemon, and sweet oak. Buttery in texture, it worked quite well with the dish, adding some richness and more toasty flavors.
I also liked the Kim Crawford Unoaked Chardonnay 2014, New Zealand ($15), for its passion fruit and fresh lemon flavors. It was light and fresh with lively acidity. It cut through the creaminess yet added some zestiness, which was really fun.
Onto the Sauvignon Blancs, the Joel Gott Sauvignon Blanc 2013, California ($10), was more tropical focused with lots of pineapple and apricot and some sweetness to it. It worked okay, but we preferred the Robert Mondavi Winery Fumé Blanc 2013, Napa Valley ($16). It was super bright and crisp. At first the wine seemed to dominate the pairing, but it mellows out and adds lots of fresh elements and highlights the lemon in the dish while cutting through the textures quite well. It really freshened everything up.
There are several other wines that could work well with this dish, but those that offered some lemon and citrus notes with good acidity worked best. Other wines that could work well (besides Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc) would be Dry Riesling, Pinot Gris, or even Chenin Blanc.
What’s your favorite light dinner pairing for a hot summer night?
*The Davis Bynum and Kim Crawford Chardonnays were provided as samples.
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Mary Cressler is a Certified Sommelier, a Wine Location Specialist, and the proprietor of Vindulge: Wine Education & Consulting. She conducts wine classes and events and offers consulting for individuals, restaurants, and event planners. She writes about wine, food, and travel on her blog Vindulge. Mary resides in Portland, Oregon with her husband, twin boys, and two Chihuahuas.