Lob-stah salad

During my (all too brief!) second stint on the East Coast, J and I took advantage of my proximity to Maine to take a short detour there after visiting some friends in Boston.  He regaled me with tales of his college/medical school travels, while I sat back and enjoyed the drive through New England’s lushly green roads.  We ended up grabbing a lobster lunch at Chauncey Creek, and it was wonderful!  Fresh, sweet lobster, a walk on the beach, the warm mugginess of summer – what a great memory of New England summer days from college.

I made this refreshing and light salad the other night for dinner after finding some lobster tails on sale at the grocer’s – my fishmonger is quite good, and I couldn’t resist them after wandering by after work.  American lobster, specifically Californian or Maine lobsters, are a great sustainable seafood choice.  It is also a great source of lean protein with a good dose of zinc and selenium.

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Lobster, Avocado, and Grapefruit Salad (serves 2, adapted from here)

Ingredients

  • 3 lobster tails
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped shallot
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon table salt
  • 1 1/2 -2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 pink or ruby-red grapefruit
  • 1 firm-ripe California avocado
  • 1 oz baby arugula (2 cups)
  • Coarse sea salt to taste (optional)

Instructions:

  1. Plunge lobster tails 8-quart pot of boiling salted water . Cook, covered, over high heat for about 6-7 minutes from time it enters water. Transfer with tongs into an ice bath.  When lobster is cool enough to handle, remove meat from tail, keeping meat intact. Chill lobster, covered, until cold.
  2. While lobster chills, stir together shallot, lemon juice, and table salt in a small bowl and let stand at room temperature 30 minutes. Add oil in a stream, whisking.
  3. Cut peel, including all white pith, from grapefruit with a sharp knife. Cut segments free from membranes and transfer segments to paper towels to drain.
  4. Halve avocado lengthwise, discarding pit. (Save 1 half, wrapped tightly in plastic wrap, for another use.) Halve remaining avocado half lengthwise and peel, then cut crosswise into 1/3-inch-thick slices.
  5. Cut lobster tail meat crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Divide avocado and all of lobster meat between 2 salad plates and arrange grapefruit around them. Top with arugula and drizzle with dressing. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt (if using) and serve immediately.
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To old friends and new salads

and SPRING, glorious spring!  Even in California, without ‘true seasons,’ it’s pretty obvious when spring arrives.  Sunshine truly becomes abundant, daffodils and hydrangeas fill the parks, and asparagus and strawberries pop up in abundance at farmer’s markets.  ❤

I met up with my old college roommates and their little mini-me’s (3 daughters between the two of them!  so cute!) for a picnic lunch yesterday.  I remember well how we all greeted spring in college – we’d find excuses to eat or sit outside ‘to study’ in Dunster House’s courtyard.  One year, after taking my MCAT, I came home after the 8 hr exam to be greeted by champagne and strawberries in the courtyard.

Yesterday’s picnic felt a little like old times, with some delightful additions: three little girls who liked to chase after ducks and risk a dunking in the pond in their curious pursuit of koi fish and turtles.  We had a delicious assortment of cheese, sandwiches, fresh strawberries and grapes, and I brought along two new salads to provide some vegetables: Grilled Zucchini and Leeks with Walnuts and Herbs and Asparagus with Meyer Lemon and Farro.  Both can be made nut-free for those with allergies, but the almonds and walnuts add texture and heartiness.

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A duo of salads packed for picnicking!

Grilled Zucchini and Leeks with Walnuts and Herbs (recipe from here) – serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup walnuts
  • 1 garlic clove, finely grated (I used a microplane)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh Meyer lemon juice
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 large leeks, white and pale-green parts only, halved lengthwise with some root attached
  • 2 large zucchini (about 1 pound), halved lengthwise
  • 1/2 cup (lightly packed) fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves with tender stems

Instructions:

  1. Prepare grill pan for medium-high heat.
  2. Toast walnuts in a dry small skillet over medium heat, tossing often, until fragrant, about 5 minutes. Chop very coarsely.
  3. Toss warm walnuts with garlic, lemon juice, and 3 tablespoons oil in a large bowl; season with salt and pepper.
  4. Brush leeks and zucchini with remaining 2 tablespoons oil; season with salt and pepper.
  5. Grill vegetables, turning often, until tender and charred in spots, 5-8 minutes for leeks, 8-10 minutes for zucchini.  Try to keep vegetables al dente, or they will be floppy (not a desirable texture).
  6. Transfer vegetables to a cutting board. Trim roots from leeks and cut leeks and zucchini into bite-size pieces.
  7. Add vegetables and parsley to bowl with walnuts and toss to combine; season vegetables with salt, pepper, and more lemon juice, if desired.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

Asparagus with Meyer Lemon and Farro (recipe adapted slightly from here) – serves 3-4

Ingredients:

  • 4 ounces (5/8 cup) pearled farro (I used Trader Joe’s 10-minute farro)
  • 4 ounces (5/8 cup) pearl couscous or orzo or Trader Joe’s Harvest Grain Blend
  • 1 Meyer lemon, zested and juiced
  • 3/4 pound asparagus, trimmed
  • 2 tbl olive oil, plus extra for roasting
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted
  • 2 ounces soft goat cheese, chilled and crumbled
  • Flaky salt and freshly ground black pepper

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Bring 3 cups of water to a boil in a 2-quart saucepan. Salt the water generously. Add the farro, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes or until al dente. (If substituting another grain such as spelt or wheat berries, follow package instructions or use this method: A No-Fuss Method for Cooking Almost Any Whole Grain.)
  3. Meanwhile, in another 2-quart saucepan, cook the pearl couscous or Harvest Grain Blend according to package directions.
  4. Spread the grains and pearl couscous on a large baking sheet and set aside to cool. Zest the lemons over the grains and stir to combine.
  5. Trim the asparagus and cut into 1-inch pieces. Toss w/ a little olive oil and season with a little salt.  Roast at 375 degrees F until crisp-tender — about 5-7 minutes, depending on how thick the stalks are.
  6. Toss the cooled grains with the asparagus in a large bowl.
  7. Whisk the Meyer lemon juice with olive oil and season with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. Taste and adjust. Pour over the grain salad and toss, along with salt and pepper to taste.**
  8. Just before serving, stir in sliced almonds and goat cheese.

**This salad lasts very well in the fridge; the herbal flavors of the Meyer lemons bloom nicely when it sits.