Sometimes a light yet satisfying meal is just what I’m in the mood for. Nothing too heavy but yet something that won’t leave me feeling hungry in an hour. Pasta crab salad is just right for lunchtime or with buttered bread for an evening meal.
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The salad is a combo of imitation crab with pasta shells and seasonings in a light dressing with a little Feta cheese tossed in for good measure. It is easily adapted by substituting the pasta shape, cheese and seasonings. Imitation crab is an affordable and convenient ingredient in this recipe.
What is Imitation crab?
Chances are, you’ve eaten imitation crab even if you didn’t realize it. It has become popular over the past few decades and is commonly found in seafood salad, crab cakes, California sushi rolls and crab rangoons.
Imitation crab meat is a product that uses fish meat to imitate shellfish. It certainly is not real crab but it really isn’t fake food either.
Surimi is a Japanese word that literally means “ground meat”. Wild Alaskan Pollock or other type of white fish is added to make a seafood paste called Surimi used in imitation crab.
The history of Surimi goes back many years. Japanese chefs originally created surimi to make use of extra fish fillets and it also refers to a number of East Asian foods that use surimi paste as their primary ingredient. Surimi has been a popular choice in Asia for years, and more recently it has become popular in places like France and Spain as well.
Imitation Crab is the result of flavoring, shaping, and coloring the Surimi paste mixed with real crab, to look like the real thing. Imitation Crab begins by finely mincing Wild Alaska Pollock and blending it with ingredients like starch, salt, natural crab meat, natural and artificial flavors and egg white. It is shaped and cured to resemble the leg meat of snow crab or Japanese spider crab.
Price and Nutrition
The biggest draw of imitation crab is the difference in price; it’s usually about one third of the price of real crab meat.
Although imitation crab is low in both fat and calories, real crab has much more protein and less sugar and sodium. Imitation crab is a much more highly processed food and is not vegan or gluten-free.
If you are looking for an alternative to canned crab meat you might consider imitation crab meat for your recipes. While it has some nutritional advantages, imitation crab meat also contains sweeteners and sodium, so you should consume it in moderation.
For additional imitation crab meat nutritional information, I like this article from Living Strong.
Bottom line is that imitation crab isn’t something we have all the time. But we do like it. It tastes similar to real crab, is convenient, inexpensive and low in calories. And, on occasion that is enough upside to make it a good choice.
Preparing pasta crab salad
Cook the pasta per package directions. A small-shaped pasta is a good choice.
Finely chop the celery.
Thinly slice the fresh basil by stacking several leaves, rolling up and slicing into thin strips.
When tender, drain and rinse the pasta and allow to cool.
Add all of the ingredients to a bowl.
Gently toss until evenly combined.
Serving pasta crab salad
- Spoon the salad into lettuce cups.
- Serve your salad with a side of buttery or peppery crackers.
- Make a sandwich using bread or soft rolls.
Pasta Crab Salad
• 8 ounces imitation crab meat chunks, flaked style, or sticks cut into pieces
• 2 ounces dry small pasta shells, cooked per package directions
• 1/4 cup celery finely chopped
• 1-2 tablespoons green onion sliced
• 1/8 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
• Squeeze of lemon juice
• salt and pepper to taste
• 1/4 cup mayonnaise
• 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh basil, thinly sliced, plus more for garnish. You can substitute fresh dill.
• 1/3 cup Feta cheese
• Pinch of Crushed pepper flakes
• 1/8 tsp celery seeds
• Add all of the ingredients to a large bowl. Stir gently to combine.
• Serve immediately, or cover and chill for up to 2 days.
And for dessert…
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