Lobster and pasta: it sounds so simple, doesn’t it? And doesn’t it sound like the epitome of the springtime or summer meal, something to enjoy after a nice day at the beach, perhaps served with a refreshing beer or glass of white wine?
Oh, were it so simple. The truth of the matter is that this is a dish that demands patience. Not only does it take some work to get all of the components ready, but it’s one that requires you to wait until the ingredients are in season because anything otherwise would result in a less-than-stellar meal. I knew this when I first saw the recipe in Made In Sicily months ago, so I abstained from even thinking about it. But then Memorial Day weekend came, and Michael was home after a long week in England, and Fairway had lobster on sale. Even the tomatoes smelled delicious, despite it not quite being peak tomato season just yet in our neck of the woods.
In short: I waited long enough to have this, and to borrow a phrase from Alton Brown, my patience was going to be rewarded.
Yes, you’re going to work for this dish, as it involves making lobster broth, cooking lobster meat, trying to bust through lobster claws to get to said meat, and bring it all together with some tomatoes and pasta in a separate pan. But the work involved is very much worth the effort: maybe it’s simply because you’ve been on your feet juggling all of the various components, but when you sit down with a bowl of of lobster and pasta in front of you, every last bite is extremely satisfying.
Besides–a little wine always helps in soothing some sore feet.
Lobster Soup with “Shredded” Spaghetti, or Spaghetti tagliuzzati con zuppa di aragosta
Adapted from Made in Sicily
Serves 4, or two with generous leftovers.
- 1 fresh live lobster (as close to two pounds as you can get)
- 5-6 ripe plum tomatoes, chopped
- 3 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for finishing
- 2 onions, diced
- 1 large carrot, diced
- 1 rib celery, diced (keep all of these as uniformly sized as possible)
- 2 tablespoons parsley, chopped
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tomato, grated with skins removed
- 1-2 chopped fresh chiles, seeded if preferred
- Generous splash of white wine
- 1 lb spaghetti, broken into pieces
- 1 tablespoon parsley and garlic (see below)
- Kosher salt
First, you’re going to have to dispatch of the lobster: Made in Sicily recommends that you place the lobster in the freezer for about fifteen minutes before you plan to use it in order to put it into a sort of stupor. You’ll then take it out, place it on a cutting board, and while using a sharp knife you’ll cut the head in half, not far behind the eyes. The book insists that it is the most humane way to do this, and well, all I can say is that it is expedient. Pull the tail and claws off, and then cut the lobster head and thorax in half. Separate this from the tail and the claws, as this will be used to make the broth.
In a small pot, blanch the tail for about 20 seconds, and blanch the claws for a good two minutes, because otherwise you will be struggling to get the shell off of the claw meat like we did. Remove the claw meat from the shell, and cut the tail in half to get two sides and remove the meat. Chop all of the meat roughly and set aside.
Then, using a large pot, heat two tablespoons of the olive oil over low heat and sweat the vegetables, bay leaf, and parsley until the vegetables are golden and soft. Add the reserved lobster head halves and the grated tomato and cook for an additional 3 minutes. Add enough water to cover everything and simmer for 20 minutes, and then strain the broth through a mesh strainer and set aside. (We kept it on low simmer.) Save the lobster heads as there is still good meat there to eat!
Clean the pot you used to make the stock and now use it to boil water for pasta. Salt it generously, add the pasta, and cook for at least a minute or two less than prescribed on the package. Reserve a little pasta water in case you need it later, and then drain.
While the water is heating up and the pasta is cooking, start the final pan sauce: add a tablespoon of olive oil to the pan and bring to a medium heat. Add the fresh chile pepper, and cook for a minute or so, and then and the chopped lobster meat to the pan and cook for a few more minutes. Add the white wine and let it cook out for a bit, and then add the chopped tomatoes and the lobster stock. When the pasta is drained, add it to the pan and toss well for about a minute. A little cooking water will loosen things up if necessary. Then add the parsley and garlic and a little more olive oil to finish, toss again, and serve.