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  • Writer's pictureTommy Centola

Three ways to use shellfish

Seafood can get expensive as an entree when you are serving a group of people. You can get more bang for your buck is you use it to make appetizers. With the versatility of seafood, your imagination is the limit as to what you can make with it.

Today, I have gathered three appetizer recipes that each use a different shellfish. The first is Crabmeat Crostini, a great couple of bites starter. The second, Crawfish Nachos, combines the flavors of Tex-Mex with the bayou’s prized inhabitant. Lastly is a dish that uses the most popular shellfish, Shrimp Salad Sliders. Come away from the waters, and Let’s head to the kitchen!

Crabmeat Crostini

Anything on a slice of French bread makes a great appetizer. This is a tasty collection of crabmeat and seasonings. It’s a great dish that doesn’t have to be kept hot.

24 (1/2-inch slices) French bread

1 tablespoon canola oil

1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided

1 pound fresh lump crabmeat, picked through for shells

3/4 cup chopped celery

1/3 cup mayonnaise

1/4 cup whole grain mustard

3 tablespoons chopped capers

2 tablespoons Champagne vinegar

2 tablespoons chopped parsley

1 teaspoon lemon zest

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 350℉.

Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with aluminum foil. Lay bread slices evenly on prepared pans. Drizzle oil over bread, and sprinkle evenly with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Bake until lightly golden and crispy, about 15 minutes. Let cool to room temperature. Store in an airtight container up to 3 days.

In a large bowl, gently combine crabmeat, celery, mayonnaise, mustard, capers, vinegar, parsley, zest, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pepper. Cover, and refrigerate up to 2 days.

Spoon 1 tablespoon crab mixture on each crostini and serve.

Crawfish Nachos

If you every have crawfish tails left over from a boil, here’s another way to use them. It’s one step further than the Crawfish Queso I have shared before. This recipe also makes a great entree.

14 ounces evaporated milk

14 ounces Queso Blanco cheese

2 teaspoons Creole seasoning

1 clove garlic, grated

16 ounces andouille sausage, coarsely chopped

24 ounces, mine tricolor sweet peppers, thinly sliced and seeded

1 jalapeño, seeded and thinly sliced

1 pound crawfish tails, drained

11 ounce bag yellow tortilla chips

Preheat oven to 425℉.

In a medium saucepan, heat evaporated milk over medium heat until steaming. Slowly add cheese, Creole seasoning, and garlic, whisking until smooth. Remove from heat; keep warm.

In a medium skillet, cook andouille over medium heat until crisp., 6 to 8 minutes; drain well. Arrange andouille, sweet peppers, and jalapeño on a large rimmed baking sheet.

Bake until peppers are softened, about 15 minutes. add crawfish mixture from pan. Place chips in pan; top with crawfish mixture and warm cheese sauce. Serve immediately.

Shrimp Salad Sliders

Sliders are all the rage. Using shrimp salad for the filling makes a lighter sandwich. It’s another great appetizer that requires little oven work.

1 1/2 pounds cooked and peeled shrimp, cut into 1/2-inch pieces and chilled

2/3 cup mayonnaise

2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

2 teaspoons lemon zest

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon orange zest

1 tablespoon fresh orange juice

1 1/2 teaspoons Creole seasoning

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

3 tablespoons butter, softened

12 slider buns, halved

In a large bowl, combine shrimp, mayonnaise basil, lemon zest and juice, orange zest and juice, Creole seasoning, salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to broil.

Spread butter onto buns. Place buns on a large rimmed baking sheet. Broil until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Spoon out 1/4 cup of shrimp mixture on bottom half of each bun, Top with other piece and serve.

I have often said that I could make a meal out of just appetizers. Sometimes, I have. It’s a great way to sample different dishes without overindulging. Next time you have a casual gathering, whip up a few different appetizers. You’ll be amazed how well they are received.

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