As part of our “Road to the Recipe” series, Chef Chris Hastings of Hot and Hot Fish Club in Birmingham, Alabama, demonstrates how to grill an avocado sandwich and pair it with a blue crab salad.


  • 3 ounces butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups Basil Aioli (recipe follows)
  • 1½ cups Preserved Lemon Vinaigrette (recipe follows)
  • 1 pound arugula
  • 2 heads Bibb lettuce
  • 2 pounds jumbo lump domestic blue crab meat
  • 10 slices brioche bread
  • salt and pepper

Pull butter out and let it come to room temperature.

Prepare the Basil Aioli and Preserved Lemon Vinaigrette (recipes follow). Set aside.

Basil Aioli Ingredients

  • 2 cups olive oil
  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 ounces lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 small glove of garlic

Basil Aioli Instructions

  1. Place garlic, olive oil, salt, and basil leaves in blender and purée for 30 seconds.
  2. Pour into bowl and place in fridge to chill.
  3. In a mixer, place egg yolks and lemon juice. Use the whisk attachment to emulsify the aioli.
  4. Remove oil from fridge and slowly drizzle it into the yolk mix while mixer is on medium high, being careful to create an emulsion.
  5. Once you have incorporated all the oil, transfer the aioli to a bowl and hold in the fridge, covered.

Preserved Lemon Vinaigrette Ingredients

  • ½ cup preserved lemon, fine diced
  • 1 shallot, fine diced
  • ½ teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • ¾ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ¾ cup regular olive oil
  • ¼ cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper

Preserved Lemon Vinaigrette Instructions

  1. Combine all ingredients and whisk together. Transfer and hold in fridge, covered, till ready to use.

Salad Instructions

  1. Wash the arugula, spin, and hold in towel in the fridge.
  2. Wash the Bibb lettuce, separating out 18 small leaves (3 per plate to hold crab salad), spin dry, and hold in towel in the fridge.
  3. Pick the crab meat of excess shells, trying to keep the lumps intact. Toss crab meat with ½ cup Preserved Lemon Vinaigrette, and hold in fridge, covered.

Sandwich Instructions

  1. Split the avocados lengthwise, remove the seed and skin, then slice avocados into approximately ¼-inch-thick slices.
  2. Spread 1 cup of Basil Aioli evenly over the 10 slices of brioche.
  3. Arrange sliced avocados onto aioli side of 5 slices, season with salt and pepper, and place top slice on each, aoli-side in.
  4. Evenly spread room-temperature butter onto both sides of each sandwich. Using a sandwich griddle, cook for about 4 minutes, till golden brown. Remove from griddle and cut the crust off the sandwiches, then cut each sandwich into 4 triangle pieces.


  1. Start by adding a bit of Basil Aioli to the plate.
  2. Place 3 Bibb lettuce leaves on each plate and spoon 1½ ounces of crab salad on each leaf. Place the warm sandwich triangles in between each of the Bibb & crab leaves.
  3. Toss the arugula with salt, pepper, and Preserved Lemon Vinaigrette – just enough to barely coat the greens – and evenly distribute the arugula into the center of the plate. Drizzle extra preserved lemon vinaigrette around the plate. Serve immediately.