Serves 6 as an appetizer salad, or 4 or as a main-course salad
There is nothing I enjoy more than working my way through a lobster or crab, plucking the meat out of the shell and savoring each morsel. The succulent flavors of the salad and the fun of picking at the lobster are the draw of this dish, but I also love the beautiful colors of the salad.
If you do not feel like working through lobster shells, shrimp will work as well, as long as you are sure not to overcook the shrimp.
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus 6 tablespoons for the lobster pot
- 2 live lobsters, 1¼ pounds each
- 3 or 4 ripe fresh tomatoes (about 1½ pounds), or 1 pound sweet, ripe cherry tomatoes
- 2 or 3 tender stalks celery with a nice amount of leaves
- Juice of 2 large lemons, freshly squeezed (about ⅓ cup)
- 2 large hard-cooked eggs, peeled and chopped
- ¼ teaspoon peperoncino flakes, or to taste
- ¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
Fill the pot with 6 quarts water, add 6 tablespoons salt, and bring to a rolling boil. When the water is at a rolling boil, drop in the lobsters and cook them, uncovered, for exactly 10 minutes after the water returns to the boiling point (and then keep it boiling). At the end of 10 minutes (or a couple of minutes longer if the lobsters are larger than 1¼ pounds), lift the lobsters from the pot, rinse with cold water, drain, and let them cool.
Core and cut the tomatoes into wedges, about 1 inch thick (if you have cherry tomatoes, cut them in half). Chop the celery stalks crosswise into 1-inch pieces, and roughly chop the leaves. Toss the tomatoes and celery together in a large bowl with ½ teaspoon of the salt.
When the lobsters are cool enough to handle, twist and pull off the claws and knuckle segments where the knuckles attach to the front of the body. Lay the clawless lobsters flat on a cutting board, and split them in half lengthwise, from head to tail, with a heavy chef ’s knife. Separate the meaty tail piece from the carcass (or body) of the four split halves.
Cut the lobster body meat into pieces of whatever size you like, putting the pieces in a large mixing bowl as you work. Separate the knuckles from the claws, and crack open the shells of both knuckles and hard claw pincers with the thick edge of the knife blade, or kitchen shears, exposing the meat. Chop the knuckles into pieces at the joints.
Cut the tail pieces crosswise into chunks, or leave them whole (which I prefer). Cut the carcass pieces crosswise in two, with the legs still attached (though you can cut the legs off). I like to leave the tomalley and roe in the body pieces, as a special treat while eating the salad. (As an alternative, remove tomalley and roe and whisk them into the dressing. Or you can remove them and discard, if not to your liking.)
To make the dressing: Whisk together the lemon juice, chopped eggs, peperoncino, and remaining ½ teaspoon salt. Pour in the olive oil in a slow stream, whisking steadily to incorporate it into a smooth dressing.
To serve: add the tomatoes and celery to the bowl of lobster pieces. Pour in the dressing, and tumble everything together until evenly coated. Scatter the parsley on top. Arrange the salad on a large platter, or compose individual servings on salad plates.