As part of our “Road to the Recipe” series, Chef Chris Hastings of Hot and Hot Fish Club in Birmingham, Alabama, demonstrates how to blend up local vegetables and basil, puréeing half and letting the rest soak in those juices to meld flavors. The blue crab is accented with lemon oil and dropped into each serving bowl. Add a crisp Chardonnay, and lunch is served.


  • 2 tablespoons yellow squash, fine diced
  • 2 tablespoons zucchini squash, fine diced
  • 2 tablespoons yellow bell pepper, fine diced
  • 2 tablespoons red bell pepper, fine diced
  • 2 tablespoons celery, fine diced
  • 6 tablespoons tomato, fine diced
  • 4 cups fresh squeezed tomato juice or fresh tomato purée
  • ½ cup cooked crab, fine diced
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon julienne fresh basil
  • salt and pepper
  • lemon oil


  1. Combine half the diced ingredients, half the tomato juice or purée, and half the balsamic vinegar in a blender and blend until puréed.
  2. Combine the purée and remaining diced ingredients, tomato juice, and balsamic vinegar in a bowl and refrigerate 4 hours to allow flavors to meld. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Divide into 4 serving bowls and add the diced crab. Finish with 1 teaspoon lemon oil in each serving.