It’s summertime and the living is easy or at least the entertaining is. Now, it’s probably obvious that I am a year-round dinner party enthusiast. But summertime parties have got to be the easiest and, paradoxically, the best. I mean, in what other context does “minimal effort” and “maximum payoff” intersect? Outside of August, it’s pretty much the equivalent of finding a unicorn waiting in the check out line at Target. And to capture these unicorn-esque vibes, I give you this Hot Crab Dip with Shishito Peppers. It asks of you little more than stirring and it is only elevated by the presence of cold beer. Basically, it’s the makings of an impromptu summer gathering covered in gooey, gooey cheese.Jump to Recipe
Summer isn’t just for kids. Everyone seems to let their hair down at this time of year, which is a very good thing because adulting is, like, hard. Obligations await you at every turn, you’re painfully familiar with 6 AM (or 4 in my case), and you can’t con anyone into doing your laundry for you. Yeah, that’s right kids. When you grow up your clean underwear supply is totally on you. How’s that for pressure?
I bring this all up to illustrate the many reasons why our inner party animals go dormant for a large part of the year. Yes, when we’re in the throes of a particularly hopeless February, it’s near impossible to coax a room full of guests into party mode. All you ever want from a dinner party is a table full of laughing people, not a haggard group of adults looking for the quickest, politest post-dinner out possible. And you can’t even blame anyone for trying. Don’t we all want a few extra hours of unconsciousness in February?
But when July hits, things start to shift in the party animal’s favor. The days get longer, the schedules more flexible, and the weather leaps and bounds better. In the summer, the whole world is a viable dinner party venue. Cheap beer tastes like premium in the sunshine. Salt, pepper, and smoke usurp the holy trinity and everyone is game to make a night of it because summer is painfully brief. In other words, building a party in the summer is like shooting fish in a barrel…only less violent…and messy.
When confronted with this effortless, carefree atmosphere, it does a party good to plan a meal that matches it. Leave your complex feats of culinary excellence for the holidays. The summer is about maximizing your beer-sipping-time and the ease of this Hot Crab Dip will leave you with enough time to drink more than you probably should.
I said at the beginning of this post that this Hot Crab Dip requires little more than stirring and I was not lying. Basically, this dip is comprised of softened goat cheese, Greek yogurt, garlic, parsley, Old Bay (naturally), and capers. You stir all the ingredients together, fold in some quality crab meat (not the canned), and sprinkle it with cheese.
Now, I know this dip does break one summertime rule – it requires some oven time. Yes, preheating an oven in these high-humidity days is the opposite of fun but this dip requires a low oven (only 350°F) and its cook time is brief (a mere 15 minutes). And if it’s really sweltering where you are, you can totally skip the gourmet crostinis and pick up a pack of Paris Toasts. As long as the beer holds out, no one will begrudge you your storebought crackers.
Now for the truly effortless portion of this recipe – the shishito peppers. Yes, that’s right, it does get easier from here. Have you ever cooked with shishito peppers a.k.a. your new summertime best friend? These are the tastiest side by themselves and they are beyond delicious when smothered in crab dip. Shocker, I know, but it is in fact true. I love shishito peppers for two reasons: they require very little effort, and they’re nearly impossible to screw up. Yes, I too, sometimes value an easy win.
All you have to do to reach shishito nirvana is heat a little olive oil in a cast-iron skillet. You can do this stovetop or on the grill of your BBQ. Once the pan is hot, add the peppers whole. Give them a good toss rather frequently until the peppers are blistered on all sides. Finish the peppers with a squeeze of lemon and a healthy sprinkling of good quality salt. Serve immediately and approach with caution – every 1-in-10 is said to be hot. Now, this average is skewed from bag to bag. I’ve had bags of peppers that were more than 50% hot and I’ve had bags without a hot one among them. It’s a totally unpredictable eating experience, which is what makes it so fun.
So, that’s everything you need to know about this Hot Crab Dip with Shishito Peppers. Plunk these two snacks on a picnic table and you’ll have a summer shindig on your hands. Just don’t forget the beer. I served mine with a hibiscus sour but any light beer will do.
Hot Crab Dip with Shishito Peppers
- Cast iron skillet
- 1 whole wheat baguette thinly sliced
- 3 tbsp olive oil divided
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 (300g, 10.5oz) packaged goat cheese softened
- 1/4 cup Greek yogurt
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 1/2 lemons juiced, divided
- 1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley finely chopped
- 2 tbsp capers drained and finely chopped
- 2 tsp Old Bay
- 227g, 10 oz good quality crab claw meat drained
- 1/4 cup mozzarella cheese shredded
- 227g, 10 oz shishito peppers
- Preheat the oven to 400°F.
- Place the baguette slices in a large bowl and add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Sprinkle in the salt and toss to coat.
- Transfer the slices to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Make sure they're evenly spaced. Place the tray in the oven and bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Take them out of the oven and set aside to cool. Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F.
- In a large bowl place the goat cheese, yogurt, garlic, parsley, juice of 1 lemon, capers and Old Bay seasoning. Stir until well-combined. Fold the crab meat into the goat cheese mixture until evenly dispersed.
- Transfer the mixture to a small 6×9 baking dish and smooth the surface. Cover the dip with shredded mozzarella cheese and pop it in the oven. Bake for 15 minutes, then turn on the broiler and cook for another 5 or until the cheese is golden. Take the dip out of the oven and let cool for 10 minutes before serving.
- While the dip is baking, heat the remaining olive oil in a large cast-iron skillet until shimmering. Add the shishito peppers and cook over medium-high heat until blistered on all sides. This should take roughly 7 minutes.
- When the peppers are blistered, take them off of the heat and toss with the remaining lemon juice and a healthy sprinkling of salt. Serve immediately alongside the dip and crostini.