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
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
- Cut lobster(s) in half lengthwise. Remove claws and the front legs attached to them.
- Remove all meat from tail, claws, and front legs. Chop, and set aside.
- Discard (or save for separate eating) the liver and any roe.
- Save the shells for presentation later. You may want to remove the antennae to keep the lobster within the size of your plate.
- Place a large pot of salted water on the stove. Bring to a boil.
- In a sauté pan, melt butter with olive oil. Add halved grape or cherry tomatoes, and cook until soft.
- Add garlic and basil. Cook for 1 minute.
- Add white wine, and bring to a simmer. Stir in lobster meat to warm. Turn off heat.
- 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.
- 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.
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