This lobster pasta salad takes everything wonderful about a Maritime lobster roll and turns it into a cold salad perfect for entertaining.
Without a doubt lobster is my favourite food. I was born in Cape Breton, raised near the Bay of Fundy and spent 21 years of my life on the East Coast.
I have strong views about lobster.
It must be Atlantic Canada lobster. I don’t like it warm. Or with garlic butter. I definitely don’t want it in tomato sauce like I had sailing from Panama to Colombia. Do not serve me warm water lobster and don’t dare think I’ll eat that spiny or rock lobster without claws.
In my world there are two acceptable ways to eat it: cold without any accompaniment or cold in a traditional lobster roll.
Now I don’t eat it often in Toronto, I reserve it for when I come home. But when I moved to the Big Smoke my sister Ryan and I started a game of taunting each other. Each time I did something fun like go to the box for a Toronto Maple Leafs game I’d call her, and she always calls me when she’s eating lobster.
That’s what sisters do.
This time coming home is very different and the most special. My little sister just had her first baby. While I’m not maternal and revealed my decision not to have children on my 35th birthday, I’m so excited to be the best aunt ever.
For his glistening (like a christening but a non-religious ceremony – just learned that) I wanted to make something special for the family barbecue. The menu already included burgers and hot dogs so lobster rolls didn’t make sense. I decided to add one more acceptable way to eat lobster.
Lobster pasta salad – inspired by the East Coast lobster roll.
Lobster seems decadent but complicated yet it doesn’t need to be, when using lobster in a recipe you have a few options.
Cook live lobster
In a salted pot of boiling water (as salty as the ocean) drop lobsters in head first and cook 12 minutes for 1lb lobsters, 17 minutes for 1.5 lb lobsters or 20 minutes for a 2lb lobster, my preferred size. Let cool. A 1 ½ pound lobster should give you about 1 1/3 cups of lobster meat.
Pros: Often the cheapest and you know it’s fresh.
Cons: Time consuming.If you don’t know how to break down a lobster it can be frustrating. Smell consumes the kitchen.
Buy cooked lobsters
Most grocery stores will sell cooked lobster at an additional $1/lb.
Pros: It’s a bit more expensive but also fresh.
Cons: The tedious task of breaking them down.
Buy canned frozen lobster
You’ll need to ask the fish department for this as they are often stored in the back as they cost $30-40. In this case lobster are cooked, blast frozen on site and immediately canned to maintain flavour.
Pros: No need to break down the lobster, simply thaw it.
Cons: Canned lobster doesn’t replace freshly cooked whole lobster but it’s great in Nova Scotia chowder, casseroles, quiche and salads.
Buy packed frozen lobster
As Dave is a chef he sees products long before I do and told me to ask the fish department for ‘CKL’ also known as frozen claws, knuckle, legs. In restaurants it’s frozen in individual plastic sleeves and sometimes called a ‘popsicle pack.’
These lobster are boiled in seawater, blast frozen in lobster water, vacuum sealed in plastic and frozen.
Pros: Convenience, simply thaw it.
Cons: Similar to canned you shouldn’t use this if it’s the main focus of a dish but it’s great as an ingredient. Also there are many different types of the vacuum sealed product, some are CKL but others are minced meat. When in doubt, ask.
So what did we choose?
When I asked the manager of the fish department about canned frozen lobster he shared the vacuum sealed was slightly cheaper so I bought that for the pasta salad and a cooked lobster for garnish.
I tried them both and am happy to recommend frozen lobster – it’s so much easier and the quality is great as long as you’re buying Atlantic Canada lobster (or Maine for that matter).
For this recipe we’re using Catelli Smart Bows, it tastes like a white pasta but offers 32% of the recommended daily fibre intake per 85 g serving. It’s also preservative and cholesterol free, and low in fat and sodium.
I’m not a fan of whole wheat pasta so I like the Catelli Smart pastas because they have extra fibre without having to compromise flavour.
East Coast Lobster Pasta Salad
This lobster pasta salad recipe is extremely flexible. We wrote this recipe in Toronto and then needed to substitute a few items that we couldn’t find at the local grocery store.
The recipe originally used rice wine vinegar, and I substituted white wine vinegar. It also originally included fresh fennel – shaved fennel bulb in the pasta and the leafy fronds as a garnish. The grocery store didn’t have fennel but I think the recipe is now more true to the lobster roll.
Disclosure: This lobster pasta salad post was a paid partnership with Catelli Pasta. We are proud to be part of their #CatelliFamilies for a second year by sharing our favourite pasta recipes. You can find our recipes on the Catelli website here. This year Catelli turns 150 year old, along with Canada! We’ve contributed to a special collection of recipes with Canadian chefs and home cooks across the country. You can check the recipes out here.
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