This summer, I had big plans to finally cross crab cakes off my list of things to gluten-free-ify. In preparation, I scoured the interwebs and virtually devoured many classic Maryland crab cake recipes, which use a much higher ratio of crabmeat to breadcrumbs than the usual hockey pucks at TGI Fridays. But making that simple crumb replacement seemed too easy. So without a more clever solution, I put gluten-free crab cakes back on the shelf and, instead, satisfied my cravings for creamy, indulgent shellfish with this dip.
But earlier this fall, I found my answer flipping through my friend Silvana Nardone’s new cookbook. We were featured together in Food & Wine’s digital awards and finally got to meet at Dana Cowin’s cookbook party. The dish I presented that night, my gluten-free meatballs, had gone through similar iterations of mental pushups. And I told the group that I had finally found the perfect breadcrumb substitution in gluten-free oats.
Having spent the last five years tinkering away in the kitchen to find gluten-free and dairy-free replacements for her son’s favorite foods, Silvana understood my allergen angst. My meatball question was similar, she said, to her quest for the perfect gluten-free crab cake, which she created using ground gluten-free pretzels.
I knew with the holidays on the horizon, I had to try Silvana’s crab cakes immediately. When I finally made them, they had the best of both crabilicious worlds: crispy and crunchy on the outside, like all the most glutinous fast food varieties, and creamy and meaty on the inside, the way Maryland natives prefer them. There’s just enough ground pretzels in the cake mixture to hold it together, but like the oats in my meatballs, they melt away in the searing process so the crab meat and mayo really do the talking. This is a brilliant technique to try even if you aren’t gluten-free. So pick up some pretzels at the store and give it a whirl.
Silvana’s book has amazing baked goods that use her signature multi-purpose flour blend. You can easily make it at home, but for those of you looking to cut some corners, you can now buy her mixes online. And since it’s the holidays, Silvana has generously offered to give away a free bag of flour and her cookbook to one lucky FMP reader.
To win a copy of Silvana’s Gluten-Free Dairy-Free Kitchen and a bag of Cooking For Isaiah Multi-Purpose Flour, 1) comment below and tell me your favorite finger food that you’d like to see a gluten-free and/or healthy version of on this site. 2) Sign-up for my weekly newsletter. I’ll announce the winner in an email on 12/21, so make sure you subscribe here.
Happy cooking and crab cake eating!
Gluten-Free Crab Cakes with Pretzel Crust
In a large mixing bowl, combine the crab, mayo, egg, ½ cup of the pretzel crumbs, Dijon, Worcestershire, parsley, lemon zest, and ¼ teaspoon salt. Shape the crab mixture into 16 one-inch cakes. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour or overnight.
Place the remaining pretzel crumbs onto a plate. Dredge the chilled cakes in the crumb mixture.
In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of oil over a medium-high flame. Add half the crab cakes and cook, turning once, until golden, about 2 to 3 minutes per side. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate. Add the remaining oil and repeat with the second batch of crab cakes. Serve warm with your favorite dipping sauce, either sriracha aioli, tartar sauce, or creamy dill dressing.