A Lobster Dinner for One

My wife was going out for dinner for a girlfriend’s birthday. The kids would be eating fried chicken and pizza. And here was the rare opportunity to make myself a fancy dinner for one.

Look who's coming to dinner!

Look who’s coming to dinner!

When I was a bachelor living in an apartment in Santa Monica, I often made myself a fancy dinner. I’d open up a bottle of wine, get out the pans, cook up a multi-course meal, light some candles, put on some music and sit down by myself to eat. It felt like it was me taking good care of myself. Many people were surprised when I told them this.

Nowadays, I’m cooking for five — and that’s when we don’t have a house full of friends for dinner. This particular evening, I could make exactly what I felt like for the only person interested — me.

I roamed the valley looking for inspiration. My first thought was soft shell crab, also known in our circle as “structural crab”, which was just coming into season. But quick stops at my two local sources came up empty. I’d been cooking a lot of Italian food lately in preparation of our trip to Italy (plus Switzerland and France). So perhaps I could find my muse elsewhere. I struck gold at Ralph’s, where I found a cooked lobster on sale, and a couple small but beautifully marbled bits of prime filet mignon. An Italian surf & turf would be just the thing!

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The steak I pan seared to a medium rare and sliced thinly, serving on a bed of arugula with pan drippings, olive oil, lemon juice and Dario Cecchini’s Tuscan fiorentina salt. It was fortunate my 5-year-old daughter Imogen didn’t notice me as I was eating it or I wouldn’t have gotten a bite.

The lobster would be the main star of the dinner. I cracked it apart and took the meat out, then simmered the shells with water, tomato paste, garlic and celery until it created a flavorful broth. Then I pureed the shells, veggies and broth in the Vitamix, strained it and reduced it down to an almost lobster gravy. The sauce was finished with copious amounts of olive oil, heirloom tomato and saffron. And I was instantly transported to a seaside village on the Adriatic.

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*    *    *

The kids were already in the back of the house, on to a movie, by the time I sat down with my glass of wine and plate of lobster spaghetti. It was quiet in the great room, I didn’t light any candles, but still pulled the chair out for myself (“Why, thank you!”), settled in and treated myself to a lovely dinner for one.

*    *    *

Lobster spaghetti with garlic and saffron
serves 4

12 oz. spaghetti
1 large lobster, live or already cooked
1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp. tomato paste
8 garlic cloves
1 small onion
1 stalk celery
1 large heirloom tomato, chopped
1/2 tsp. saffron threads
salt & crushed red pepper to taste

Cook the lobster if using a live lobster. When cooled, break apart and remove all the meat from the tail, claws and joints. Cut meat into cubes and set aside in fridge.

Place the shells in a saucepan and cover with water. Place saucepan over high heat. Add 2 tbsp. olive oil, tomato paste, 3 cloves garlic, onion and celery. When it begins to boil, reduce heat to medium and simmer until water has reduced by half, and 30-40 minutes.

Let cool to room temperature. Place everything from the saucepan — shells, veggies and stock — in a blender and blend on high for about 30 seconds. Wipe the saucepan down. Strain through a fine sieve back into the saucepan and return to medium-high heat. Simmer until reduced again to about 1 cup of sauce. (It should now seem more like a sauce and less like a stock.)

Reduce heat to medium-low, add chopped tomato, 5 garlic cloves peeled and crushed, 1/4 cup olive oil and saffron. Simmer for 5-10 minutes until tomato is soft and incorporated.

While the sauce is simmering, cook the spaghetti to al dente. Do not drain.

Turn sauce on to medium high and bring to a strong simmer. Add lobster and a sprinkle of crushed red pepper to your taste (I like the pasta kinda spicy, so I add more). With tongs, lift the al dente spaghetti from the water directly into the sauce. Toss and continue cooking on medium high for 1-2 minutes, until all the spaghetti is coated and the sauce has thickened.

Divide between four plates, taking care to make sure everyone gets some lobster, and drizzle with a bit more olive oil.

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9 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. pal-O
    Jun 24, 2016 @ 00:52:25

    Lovely!

    Reply

  2. Andrea Thompson
    Jun 24, 2016 @ 21:42:12

    What a lovely post.

    Reply

  3. Ernie
    Jun 25, 2016 @ 15:38:36

    I had made shrimp stock before but I buy lobster stock at Santa Monica Seafood. Now I am armed with a new recipe! Thanks!

    Reply

  4. Michelle
    Jun 26, 2016 @ 03:18:44

    Bravo!

    Reply

  5. Greggie
    Jun 26, 2016 @ 15:52:49

    Wow – I wouldn’t have thought of lobster with spaghetti but this sounds really delicious.

    Reply

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