Small Plate Saturday: Spicy Crab Cakes With La Poema Cava

Welcome to our new series, Small Plate Saturday, where we enjoy wines paired with an afternoon appetizer, something you may enjoy at a laid back beach side cafe, or on your quiet back patio with a friend after taking a dip in the pool to cool off.

I chose to make vegan crab cakes, using hearts of palm and Gardein plant based chicken strips as a base. Fried crispy on the outside, and paired with a lemon dill aioli, these hit the spot paired with the La Poema Cava, a gift from a fellow Grape Geek!


Spanish Cava is different from the Italian Prosecco in that it is made using the Champagne Method, which in basic terms means that the wine has undergone a secondary fermentation in the bottle. This can produce more of the bready, yeasty or nutty flavor profiles that are present in some champagne. La Poema did present to my palate a yeasty like flavor, paired with crisp subtle peach.

The finish is fairly simple, it sort of winds down at the back of the palate. I didn’t mind this so much due to the spice in the crab cakes. I found the wine easy to enjoy with our snack, it was just right for our casual gathering. La Poema would be great as a brunch offering as well, drunk as is or made into elegant cocktails.


If you would like to enjoy this Small Plate Saturday offering, you can access the recipe here or see below.

Cook’s Notes

The modifications I made were to mix in Gardein chicken strips after they were pan fried. I felt this gave the cakes a nice texture, and included some “lumps” to simulate crab meat. I also used my immersion blender to whiz up some of the hearts of palm, leaving some chunks. The cakes stayed together better during frying using this method.

Hearts of Baltimore Crab Cakes [Vegan, Gluten-Free]

This Recipe is dairy-free, gluten-free, soy-free, and vegan.




2 Oversized ‘Crab’ Cakes

Cook Time



For the Garlicky Dill Aïoli:

  • 1/2 cup vegan mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic

For the Crab Cakes:

  • 3 tablespoons grapeseed or safflower oil, divided, plus more for frying
  • 1 (14-ounce) can hearts of palm, (not packed in sugar), roughly chopped to the consistency of crab meat
  • 1/4 cup chopped celery
  • 1/4 cup diced red bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons Old Bay Seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup vegan mayonnaise

For the Breading:

  • 1/2 cup gluten-free bread crumbs, or more
  • 1 tablespoon Old Bay Seasoning
  • Lemon wedges, to serve


To Make the Garlicky Aïoli:

  1. Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl. Mix well and add salt and pepper to taste. Set in the fridge to keep cool.

To Make the Crab Cakes:

  1.  Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the hearts of palm and sauté for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. Cook until golden brown on all sides. Set aside to cool. Add the celery and peppers and mix well.
  2.   Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a skillet over medium-heat heat. Add the onions and sauté until translucent, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for 1 minute.
  3.   Remove from the heat, add to the hearts of palm, and mix well. Add the Old Bay seasoning, cornstarch, and mayo.
  4.  Transfer the mixture to a mixing bowl and mix well. Set aside to cool to room temperature, then shape the mixture into four round patties.

To Make the Breading:

  1.  In a shallow bowl, combine the bread crumbs and Old Bay seasoning, stirring to mix. Coat the patties with the breadcrumb mixture and refrigerate for 20 minutes.
  2.  Heat about 3 tablespoons oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat until hot and shimmering. Carefully place the patties in the skillet and cook until golden brown on each side, approximately 2 minutes per side. Watch closely to prevent burning.
  3. Transfer the cooked patties to a plate lined with paper towels to drain any excess oil. Serve hot, topped with the aïoli, with lemon wedges on the side.


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