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Crab cakes with fresh baby salad greens & creamy meyer lemon dressing

Crab Cakes:

6 large handfuls fresh baby lettuces, cleaned, rinsed and dried
1 lb. fresh crab meat
2 tbsp. olive oil
½ cup onion, finely diced
½ cup celery, finely diced
1 large clove garlic, minced
½ cup red bell pepper, finely diced
2 tbsp. fresh lemon thyme, finely chopped
2 tbsp. fresh parsley, finely chopped
3 cups fresh bread crumbs
3 eggs
1 cup heavy cream
salt and pepper, to taste
3 cups panko bread crumbs (or cracker or other dry bread crumbs)
salad oil

Creamy Meyer Lemon Dressing:

1 cup Mayonnaise
1 cup buttermilk
1 tbsp. Meyer lemon zest
½ cup Meyer lemon juice
1 large clove garlic, very finely minced
2 tbsp. fresh chives, thinly sliced
salt and pepper, to taste

Prepare dressing: Mix all of the dressing ingredients together in a small glass bowl. Correct for seasonings and set aside until crab cakes are cooked.

Prepare crab cakes: Gently squeeze excess water out of crab and place on a plate covered with a paper towel. Set aside. Heat the olive oil in a medium non-stick sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and the celery to the pan and gently cook until onions are translucent. Add the minced garlic and sauté one minute longer. Remove pan from heat and stir in the red bell pepper; set aside to cool.

Break the eggs into a large mixing bowl. Beat them with a fork until they are well blended, then stir in the cream. Mix with the fork until evenly blended. Add 2 cups of the fresh bread crumbs and stir gently with the fork until all are coated with the egg mixture. Let bread crumb mixture soak for a few minutes. The bread crumbs should be fully soaked with the egg mixture, but not so wet that there is liquid sitting in the bottom of the bowl. If the mixture seems dry add a little more cream; if it seems too wet, add some more of the bread crumbs. Add the crab, vegetables, herbs and salt and pepper to taste to the bread mixture and gently fold them in. The mixture should hold together when lightly squeezed. Divide the mixture in two in the bottom of the bowl then divide each half into 6 mounds.

Pour panko (dry) bread crumbs into a large bowl. Take a mound of crab mixture, place it into the bread crumbs and cover it well. Form it into a cake with both hands, covering it well with the bread crumbs. Set it on a sheet pan covered with foil and form remaining cakes. Allow cakes to sit for a few minutes.

Heat a large non-stick sauté pan over medium-high heat. Pour enough oil into the pan to barely cover the bottom. Place six cakes into the pan and fry them in the oil for three or four minutes or until lightly browned. Gently turn them over and fry on the second side until lightly browned. Remove the cakes to a sheet pan covered with foil and fry the second set of crab cakes, using more oil, if necessary. Place all 12 crab cakes into a preheated 375 degree oven for 6 to 8 minutes. While cakes are in the oven place large handfuls of lettuces onto 6 serving plates. Place two hot crab cakes onto each plate and pour a generous spoonful or two of the dressing over the greens and the cakes. Serve immediately. Makes first course servings for 6 or appetizers for 12.

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