Lobster Salad with Fine Herbs
This elegant lobster salad presents an entire lobster half surrounded by al dente baby vegetables and a tomato filled with lobster mayonnaise and julienned vegetables. Quail egg halves complete the presentation. The “bull’s horn” pepper in the ingredients is a narrow, sickle-shaped, light green sweet pepper and can be found in specialty produce departments and markets. Substitute any mild sweet (not hot) pepper.
- Garlic Cloves - 12, slightly crushed
- Olive oil to cover
- Yellow Cherry Tomatoes - 8
- Red cherry tomatoes - 8
- Artichokes - 4, small
- Lemon - 1
- Nicoise olives - 20
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Salt - 1 tablespoon
- Wine vinegar - 1 tablespoon
- Lobsters - 2, about 1-1/4 pounds each
- Carrot - 1 medium, julienned
- Zucchini - 1 small, julienned
- Bird Pepper - 1/4, julienned
- Bull’s horn pepper - 1, julienned
- Green Beans - 16
- New Potatoes - 8, small
- Quail Eggs - 4
- Tomatoes - 4 medium
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Basil, chives, flat parsley, and tarragon - 1 bunch each
- Pinch of saffron
- Fresh Ginger - 1 teaspoon, grated
- Mayonnaise - 1 cup
- Mixed salad greens - 2 cups, or mesclun mix, including oak leaf lettuce
- Olive Oil - 1/2 cup
- Sea salt to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
To prepare the cherry tomatoes: Put the garlic cloves in olive oil to cover and add the cherry tomatoes. Toss to coat. Let marinate at least 2 hours.
To prepare the artichokes: Cut the sharp tips off the artichoke leaves and snap off the tough leaves around the bottom. Slice the stem off to form a flat bottom. Rub newly cut parts with the lemon. Place the artichokes, bottom-side down, into a steamer or on a rack above at least one inch of boiling water. Squeeze a little lemon juice into the water. Cover and steam until the bottoms are tender, 30 - 40 minutes. Pull off the leaves and squeeze out the pulp. Scrape away the hairy choke and dice the bottoms.
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Combine the artichoke pulp and dice, drained garlic cloves from the cherry tomatoes, and Nicoise olives and spread them on a baking sheet. Roast the vegetables until slightly browned, 45 - 60 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
To prepare the lobster: Fill a large pot with salted water and add the vinegar. Bring to a boil over high heat. Plunge in the lobsters, cover, and cook 8 to 10 minutes. Remove with tongs, drain on paper towels, and let cool. When cool, split the lobsters in half lengthwise. Clean out the innards; reserve the coral and a spoonful of juice. If using Maine lobsters, crack the claws and remove the meat in large pieces. Keep cool until ready to use.
To prepare the vegetables: Bring a small pan of salted water to a boil and add the carrot julienne. Cook until just softened, al dente, 3 - 4 minutes. Remove from heat and drain; set aside. Repeat with the zucchini and pepper juliennes, green beans, and potatoes, cooking each separately and adjusting cooking time to prepare each vegetable al dente. For the quail eggs, lower the eggs into the boiling salted water with a slotted spoon and reduce the water to simmer. Cook 3 minutes, remove with a slotted spoon, and place in cold water to cool. Drain and peel. Keep cool until ready to use.
To make the tomato cups: Wash and dry the medium tomatoes. Cut off the tops and scoop out the pulp. Season with salt and pepper. Reserve 8 leaves or 1 sprig of each herb and mince the remainder. Soak the saffron threads in the reserved spoonful of lobster juice. Mix the minced herbs, saffron, ginger, and mashed lobster coral with the mayonnaise. If using Maine lobsters, fold in the pieces of claw meat. Fill the tomatoes with the lobster mayonnaise. Stand the julienned vegetables and reserved herb sprigs in the mayonnaise, creating a hollow in the center. Cut the quail eggs in half and place a quail egg half in the center of each. Reserve the remaining quail egg halves. Loosely cover the filled tomatoes with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use.
To serve: On each plate, lay one half of a lobster, meat-side up. Place a filled tomato on each plate near the head end of the lobster. Place a large scoop of the roasted artichoke mixture beside each tomato. Cut the potatoes in half and divide among the plates. Divide the green beans, cherry tomatoes, and the quail egg halves among the plates. Place a small cluster of mixed salad greens on each plate. Drizzle each with a few drops of olive oil, lemon juice, and freshly ground pepper. Sprinkle a little sea salt on the potato halves. Put any remaining lobster mayonnaise in a sauce boat and pass.