Crab and Artichoke Dip

On a Saturday evening every other month, Mom and Handsome Greg come to my place for a leisurely, candlelit dinner. I spend weeks preparing the menu, and developing and testing recipes. But despite my careful, down-to-the-minute scheduling of the shopping, cleaning, and food prep, when Mom and Greg arrive at Chez Galley Kitchen, I am generally rushing around in a mad panic to get the food done on time. Handsome Greg (who incidentally towers over me at nearly 6’4”) kindly offers to help, and is subsequently banished from my wee kitchen to open the wine and set the table.

One day I will learn my lesson. I will plan menus that aren’t needlessly complicated with too many dishes that require last-minute, pre-dinner devotion. I will have food on the table when my guests arrive, and I will feel like a grown-up or a superhero or Katie Couric. And when that day comes, the meal will begin with an easy, make-ahead appetizer, like a hearty, palette-pleasing spread.

This creamy, crabby, cheesy dip gets the party started with a nostalgic nod to 70s swank. I’d never had canned crab before and wasn’t sure what to expect (foodies talk some serious smack about canned crab), but it was delicious! It didn’t taste “canned” at all. With all the creamy, cheesy, mayo-y ingredients, I was a little nervous the dip would come out of the oven with an oil slick on top, so I used the light versions of the dairy and mayo, and the consistency was plenty decadent without being greasy.

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Antipasto Salad

Q: What’s the best way to improve a green salad?

A: Add salami!

I served this salad last Saturday night to Mom, Handsome Greg, and my fancy guesty big brother Kevin. We ate it alongside the spaghetti in meat sauce and Italian bread with roasted garlic whipped butter. I made way too much, and I’ve been enjoying it for dinner every night since then, straight from the serving bowl.

This is another Lunch Bunch trial recipe. (My day to serve lunch at work is two weeks from today. Nervous!) I’m planning to keep everything the same, except for the croutons. On Saturday, I fried up bits of pizza dough and tossed them in grated Parmesan cheese.

[Wait – that’s a lie. Mom fried up bits of pizza dough and tossed them in grated Parmesan cheese. Oh, and Greg and Mom did all of the chopping. And Mom made the dressing, and marinated the mozzarella. Other than adapting the recipe, I was pretty much useless on this one, as I was busy making frosting for the cupcakes.]

Anyway, the fried pizza dough croutons were deliciously cheesy, golden-crisped nuggets of wonderful on top of the salad. But they don’t stay that way long enough to work for Lunch Bunch, so I’m going to make regular bread croutons in the oven, tossed with olive oil and garlic. Sorry, Lunch Bunchers!

The rest of the salad was just as fabulous: crunchy hearts of romaine, creamy marinated fresh mozzarella, spicy salami, briny artichoke hearts, and sweet basil, all tossed in olive oil and lemon juice.

Recipe after the fold

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