Vegan Crabless Crab Cakes with Smoked Bell Pepper Sauce

Crabless crab-cakes, you ask? Yes! These vegan crabless crab cakes with smoked bell pepper sauce are plant based thanks to some hearts of palm, which mimics the texture of the crab. To turn it into ‘sea’ tasting food without sacrificing our health, we add nori seaweed, curry leaves, mustard seeds and homemade Old Bay seasoning to incorporate a seaworthy taste that your guest won’t forget!

Serve topped with our delicious Smoked Bell Pepper Sauce for even more flavor.

To make ahead of time, the cakes can be covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated, a day in advance. Or, freeze for longer storing times, and thaw in the refrigerator before preparing.


  • 1 (14 oz) jar hearts of palm
  • 1 medium parsnip (about 6 oz.) washed, peeled and cut into medium dice
  • 1 tsp. black or brown mustard seeds 
  • 8 curry leaves (optional)
  • 1 large shallot, finely minced (¼ cup)
  • 1 red or green jalapeño or fresno chile, seeds removed and finely minced
  • 3 medium sized garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp.  Nori flakes
  • 1-½ tsp. Old Bay Seasoning, preferably homemade without salt
  • 1 slice Ezekial bread, toasted until golden brown & processed to fine crumbs
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • ¼- ½ cup fresh herbs, chives and cilantro or parsley
  • Lime juice and slices 


For the hearts of palm:

  1. They will be very salty, so drain and rinse, two-three times, then slice in half lengthwise. 
  2. Soak in warm water for 10 minutes, then drain. 
  3. Chop in medium dice and place in a food processor. 
  4. Pulse a few times until the hearts of palm look like crabmeat, about 8 pulses. Remove to a medium sized bowl.

For the parsnips:

  1. Place in a steamer and steam for 8-10 minutes or until very tender. 
  2. Remove from the steamer and pass through a ricer or mash with a potato masher. Let cool.

For the shallot mixture:

  1. Heat a small sauté pan over medium high heat and using a paper towel, wipe just a bit (⅛ tsp) oil on the bottom of the pan, and heat for 30 seconds. Just this tiny bit of oil allows for the mustard seeds and curry leaves, if using, to bloom.
  2. Add mustard seeds and curry leaves to the pan and cook until the seeds just start to pop, about a minute. Don’t let it go too long or the seeds will burn.
  3. Reduce the heat to low and add the shallot, chile and garlic.
  4. Sauté for a couple of minutes, or until the shallots are translucent. Remove from the heat, and let cool.

Make the cakes: 

  1. In the bowl with the hearts of palm, add shallot mixture, nori flakes, Ezekiel bread crumbs, old bay seasoning and freshly ground black pepper. 
  2. Form into 4-5 large cakes or make smaller for hors d’oeuvres, to make 15-16 bite size pieces.
  3. Refrigerate for 15 minutes, or longer, before cooking.

To Cook: 

  1. If serving 4-5 as an entree, place a non-stick pan over medium-high heat for one or two minutes. 
  2. Gently place the cakes in the pan and turn the heat down to medium. 
  3. Cover and cook for two-three minutes. 
  4. Check to see if the bottom has browned. 
  5. Once lightly browned, carefully flip the cakes over and brown the other side. Squeeze a little lime juice on top.

If serving as hors d’oeuvres: 

  1. Preheat the oven to 400℉. 
  2. Place the tiny cakes on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for about 10-12 minutes or until the tops are dry and lightly browned. 
  3. Turn over and cook for another minute or two.  Squeeze a little lime juice on top.
  4. Place the cake on a serving platter and add a dollop of Smoked Bell Pepper sauce on top.  Adorn with a cilantro leaf or chive sticks

To serve as an entreé:

  1. Place a dollop of Smoked Bell Pepper Sauce on the serving dish and top with cake. 
  2. Squeeze a little lime juice on top and adorn with chives, parsley and/or cilantro. Add a slice of lime on the side.  

Serve with a nice arugula salad dressed with one of the oil free dressing from the Garden of Eydie!

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