Easy but elegant

Lobster, Roasted Potato and Green Bean Salad

Entertaining: Lobsters can be cooked by the supermarket, which makes preparing this summery salad simple.

September 19, 1999|By Betty Rosbottom | Betty Rosbottom,Los Angeles Times Syndicate

I love lobster, but typically I buy this expensive shellfish only for special occasions. However, at the end of the summer, my local supermarket sells these crustaceans at the lowest prices of the year.

As a cook, I can never resist this temptation. This past week, for example, we had an overnight guest arriving for a short visit, so I decided to buy lobsters for our dinner. To save time, I had the lobsters cooked at the store, a service many fish departments in groceries now offer.

At home, I used the lobsters in a main-course salad, which was reminiscent of one I had sampled earlier in the summer at the two-star Parisian restaurant, Michel Rostang. In the French version, the chef combined warm roasted potatoes, asparagus spears and artichoke hearts with bits of lobster and salad greens, then napped the mixture with a light vinaigrette sauce.

My rendition was far simpler. I roasted wedges of red skin potatoes along with garlic cloves, combined them with cooked green beans and lobster, and then added a lemon-scented dressing. Rather than presenting my version warm, I offered it at room temperature. The salad, a light yet filling entree, was delicious served with corn on the cob and a basket of warm, crusty bread.

Later that same week, because the lobsters were still at bargain prices, I decided to take this salad as a side dish to a picnic organized by a group of food and wine enthusiasts in my town. Within minutes of being placed on the table, the platter was depleted.

Whether a main course or an accompaniment, this salad is easy to prepare in advance. The potatoes and garlic can be roasted, the beans cooked and the dressing mixed early in the day. At serving time, a quick assembly is all that is necessary.

Lobster, Roasted Potato and Green Bean Salad

Serves 4

3 (1 1/4 -pound) lobsters, cooked

1 1/4 pounds red skin potatoes, scrubbed but not peeled

1 head garlic

1/2 cup olive oil, plus more if needed

1 teaspoon dried thyme

kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper

1/2 pound tender green beans

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard, plus more if needed

romaine lettuce leaves or other greens for garnish

1 tablespoon chopped chives or parsley, optional

Remove fan-shaped tail portions from lobsters and reserve for garnish. Then remove all meat from claws and tails. Slice lobster meat and set aside.

Cut potatoes in half lengthwise, and slice into 1/2 -inch-thick wedges. Place in baking pan. Separate cloves from head of garlic and peel cloves. Toss with potatoes in pan. Whisk together 1/3 cup olive oil, thyme, 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in small bowl. Pour over potatoes and garlic, then stir to make sure all ingredients are coated with oil. Roast in oven, uncovered, on center rack at 375 degrees until potatoes and garlic are tender and golden, about 45 minutes, stirring once or twice. Remove and cool to room temperature. Drain off and reserve excess oil.

Cook beans in 3 quarts boiling water to which 1 tablespoon salt has been added, about 8 minutes or until tender. Remove. Place under cold running water to cool beans. Pat dry and set aside.

In large nonreactive bowl, place lobster, potatoes, garlic and beans. (If not using immediately, cover and refrigerate up to 3 hours. Bring to room temperature 30 minutes before serving.)

To prepare dressing, whisk lemon juice, vinegar and 1 teaspoon mustard in small mixing bowl. Place reserved oil (from potatoes and garlic) in measuring cup and add enough extra oil to make 1/4 cup, then whisk this oil into lemon-vinegar mixture. Taste. If you would like dressing to be sharper in taste, add extra 1/2 teaspoon mustard. (Dressing can be prepared 3 hours ahead and refrigerated. Bring to room temperature 30 minutes before using. Whisk well.)

When ready to serve, pour dressing over salad ingredients and toss. Taste and add more salt and pepper if needed. If dressing seems to need more oil, gradually pour in extra. Arrange lettuce leaves as border on serving plate and place reserved lobster tails on leaves as garnish. Mound salad on platter. Sprinkle salad with chopped chives.

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