I grew up in New England, where lobster is ubiquitous. It’s the quintessential summer food, associated with the seashore and bare feet, picnic tables and messy eating, accessorized by dribbling butter, nutcrackers and paper bibs.
Now, many years and moves later, I usually dine on lobster on special occasions. The once-standard summer fare has morphed into a celebratory treat.
But why limit lobster to special occasions or a specific time of year?
This is a recipe for any time. It’s understated and comforting, yet carries the swag of fresh-cooked lobster meat. The method is simple; it’s special but not pretentious, and relies on a short list of honest ingredients that drive wonderfully fresh flavor.
If you prefer not to use lobster meat, shrimp are an excellent alternative, and they will bump this recipe onto your roster of easy weeknight meals. When using shrimp, simply saute them in olive oil with a pinch of salt before adding them to the dish.
Total Time: 30 minutes
Yield: Serves 4
- 1 pound spaghetti or bucatini
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 pound grape tomatoes, halved
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more for garnish
- 1 pound cooked lobster meat, as chunky as possible
- 1/2 cup loosely packed basil leaves, torn, plus extra for garnish
- Lemon wedges
1. Bring a large pot of generously salted water to a rolling boil. Add the spaghetti and cook 1 minute less than al dente. Drain, reserving 1 cup cooking water.
2. While the pasta is cooking, heat the oil in a large, deep skillet over medium heat. Add the tomatoes and cook until they begin to break down and their juices release, 8 to 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in the garlic and red pepper flakes and continue to cook until fragrant and the tomatoes soften further, 2 to 3 minutes. Season with the salt and pepper and taste to adjust.
3. Add the lobster meat to the skillet and stir to coat. Add the drained pasta and 1/4 cup reserved cooking liquid. Continue to cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the dish is well combined, adding 1/4 cup more liquid at a time to your desired consistency. The sauce should be glossy and evenly coat the spaghetti without being stodgy. Stir in the basil.
4. Divide the pasta between serving plates and garnish with additional basil, freshly ground black pepper, and a squeeze of lemon.
Lynda Balslev is an award-winning food and wine writer, cookbook author and recipe developer. She also authors the blog TasteFood, a compilation of more than 600 original recipes, photos and stories.