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“Penny Pinching” an expensive recipe

By Julie Norman

My sister got me a subscription to "Cooking Light" magazine a few years ago and renews it for me every year at Christmas.  I really enjoy it and especially love their variety of recipes: vegetarian, grilled, beef, chicken, fish, pricey, cheap, fast, slow...whatever you want, it's probably there.  I came across this recipe for crab and heirloom tomato salad in the most recent edition and really wanted to try it.  However, both of those title items are really expensive. Here's the ingredient list:

1/3 cup fresh cilantro leaves
4 mini sweet bell peppers, thinly diagonally sliced
1 large shallot, thinly sliced
1 jalapeño pepper, thinly diagonally sliced
12 ounces jumbo lump crabmeat, shell pieces removed
2 1/2 tablespoons canola mayonnaise
1 teaspoon grated lime rind
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
2 pounds heirloom tomatoes, sliced
1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup small fresh basil leaves

Here's the prep:  Combine the first 5 ingredients in a large bowl. Combine mayonnaise, rind, and juice in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add mayonnaise mixture to crab mixture; toss gently to coat. Arrange tomatoes on a serving platter; drizzle with oil. Sprinkle tomatoes with salt and pepper. Mound crab mixture over tomatoes. Sprinkle with basil leaves.  ~ Julianna Grimes, Cooking Light AUGUST 2014

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I looked at the lump crab meat (the recipe calls for 12 oz).  It was $8 for 8 oz!  But what was two feet away from the lump crab meat? The seafood clearance bin.  What was in the seafood clearance bin? Almost a pound of scallops for 50% off! I remembered that I had a little over half a pound of raw, ez peel shrimp at home that had also been 50% off, so I decided to change the recipe from crab salad to seafood salad.  I got the scallops for around $4.50. 

Heirloom tomatoes are always pricier than the regular ones, so I didn't even bother looking.  I had plenty of tomatoes at home from my own garden and my neighbor's.  I knew those would taste just as great as any I'd buy in the store.  I also had some leftover artichoke hearts from a pizza I made a few nights before (artichokes were on sale!) so I added those to my salad as well.  I had most of the remaining ingredients at home already.  I was growing basil and sweet peppers in the backyard, I had a lime and cilantro that definitely neeeded to be used, and I just used some thinly sliced sweet onion instead of shallot.

 I assembled the "tomato" part of the recipe first and set it aside.  Those sorts of things just get better the longer they sit (and yes, I do have the leftovers as part of my lunch today).  Here it is before I stirred it all together:

I thawed the scallops and shrimp and started some water with lemon heating on the stove.  When it boiled I threw all the seafood in and let it cook until the shrimp were pink.  Then I put the seafood on ice to cool while I assembled everything else. This salad was SO good!  The scallops added some sweetness to it and the subtle heat from the jalapenos was a nice addition.  I'll definitely be making this again with whatever combos I can find in the clearance bin: scallops and "krab" meat, shrimp, sometimes you can even find crab legs there...So don't look at recipes with expensive ingredients as being out of your price range; look at them as a challenge to make a Penny Pincher version!

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