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Venetian Lobster and Squid Ink Pasta

About a year ago I ate a fabulous dinner of lobster and squid ink pasta in the heart of Venice. Thanks to a tour guide, who said that it was his favorite traditional Venetian dish, I ordered it at Le Magazin, a restaurant not far from our hotel. This dish requires a whole cold water lobster for maximum presentation and flavor; however, you can dispense with it and use only the meat.

The first time I tried to recreate the recipe, it didn’t taste quite right. Last summer, with Maine lobsters on sale and my garden brimming with fresh grape tomatoes, I decided to give it another go. I used dried squid ink spaghetti, although any long black pasta will do. If you can’t bring yourself to eat squid ink pasta, substitute regular spaghetti or linguine for a less dramatic but still delicious dish.

Because I’m squeamish when it comes to cooking lobster, I purchased lobsters and had them steamed at my grocery store. I used two “chicken” lobsters for two people, although one lobster will be sufficient for two. I ended up with leftovers for the next day’s lunch. Not a bad thing.

Even though I perfected this recipe during the summer, you can make it any time of the year.

Lobster With Squid Ink Pasta and Grape Tomatoes

Serves 2-3 people

Ingredients

1-2 Whole Maine or other cold water lobsters, steamed

2 T butter

2 T olive oil

24 grape or cherry tomatoes, halved

2 cloves garlic, chopped or pressed

1/2 cup good white wine

2 T fresh basil, torn into pieces

1/2 pound squid ink (black) pasta

Preparation

  1. Cut lobster(s) in half lengthwise. Remove claws and the front legs attached to them.
  2. Remove all meat from tail, claws, and front legs. Chop, and set aside.
  3. Discard (or save for separate eating) the liver and any roe.
  4. Save the shells for presentation later. You may want to remove the antennae to keep the lobster within the size of your plate.
  5. Place a large pot of salted water on the stove. Bring to a boil.
  6. In a sauté pan, melt butter with olive oil. Add halved grape or cherry tomatoes, and cook until soft.
  7. Add garlic and basil. Cook for 1 minute.
  8. Add white wine, and bring to a simmer. Stir in lobster meat to warm. Turn off heat.
  9. Meanwhile, cook pasta to al dente. Reserve 1 cup cooking water, then drain the pasta. Add pasta to the pan with the lobster and tomatoes. Turn the heat on to medium-low.
  10. Add pasta water, 1/4 cup at a time, to the pasta and lobster mixture, stirring and tossing to coat the pasta. Don’t add more water than can be absorbed. I usually end up using only 1/2 cup of pasta water.

Serving and Presentation

Place one-half empty lobster shell on each plate. Nestle the pasta around the lobster shell. Sprinkle with chopped basil or parsley. Serve immediately with a side of crusty Italian bread.

The Verdict

This dish makes a dramatic presentation for a special dinner such as New Year’s Eve, Christmas, or an anniversary. Although many people may struggle with the idea of squid ink pasta, it has a mild, briny flavor that pairs marvelously with seafood.

Debbie Lee Wesselmann

By Debbie Lee Wesselmann

I am a world traveler, foodie, and the author of three works of fiction: Captivity, Trutor & the Balloonist, and The Earth and the Sky.

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