Wine Matches Made in Heaven

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Maine lobster salad with pesto aioli

Recipe courtesy Jason Pringle, executive chef, db Bistro Moderne, Miami

Instead of butter-poached lobster and Chardonnay, try lobster salad with pesto aioli and Timorasso. Unlike the decadent classic, this version stars a bright citrus vinaigrette and basil aioli, making this dish light and refreshing, not to mention a terrific canvas for white-wine experimentation.

3 lemons, sliced
5 tablespoons coarse salt 
2 live lobsters (Maine preferred, approximately 1½–2 pounds each)
4 cloves garlic
1½ cups extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for sautéing garlic 
Pinch of salt 
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 lemon, juiced 
1 bunch parsley, rinsed, leaves picked 
1 bunch basil, rinsed, leaves picked
¼ cup toasted pine nuts
1 pound mixed lettuce, washed
2 red bell peppers, cored, seeded and sliced
3 ripe avocados, halved, pitted, peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces
4 ounces fresh hearts of palm, sliced
3 limes, zested and juiced
Freshly ground white pepper

In a large stockpot, bring 1 gallon of water with the lemon and salt to a boil, and place a large bowl of ice water on the side. Drop lobsters into the pot, making sure they are submerged (add water if necessary), and cover with a lid. Let simmer for 10 minutes, and then transfer lobsters to the ice water to chill.

Strain and pat dry lobsters. Remove the meat from the claws and knuckles of the lobster. Cut off the tails, slice them in half lengthwise through the shell and remove the veins. Cut the tail meat into pieces and keep lobster chilled while preparing the aioli.

Place the garlic cloves in a small saucepan and cover with several tablespoons of olive oil and a pinch of salt. Cook on low heat (only a few bubbles should rise to the surface) for approximately 30–40 minutes, or until tender and golden. Remove from the heat and keep cloves submerged in the oil until ready to use.

In a medium bowl, combine the yolk, salt, Dijon mustard and lemon juice with a whisk. Slowly stream in the olive oil, while whisking, to make a very thick mayonnaise. Reserve and refrigerate.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and place a bowl of ice water on the side. Boil the parsley leaves until very tender, and then transfer them to ice water to chill. Squeeze dry. Repeat the process with the basil leaves. Transfer the cooked herbs to a blender, add cooked garlic and purée with enough ice water to make a thick mixture. Add pine nuts and pulse several times to combine. Combine with the mayonnaise and reserve in refrigerator until ready to use.

To finish, in a large bowl, toss the lobster meat, lettuce, peppers, avocado, hearts of palm, lime zest and juice with olive oil, salt and pepper to taste. Divide onto 6 plates, and serve chilled, accompanied by the pesto aioli (use a piping bag or just put dollops of aioli on each plate). Serves 6.

The Pairing:

Sommelier Christopher Birnie-Visscher recommends Vigneti Massa’s 2010 Derthona from Piedmont. “The tropical aromatics, like apple, watermelon, guava and pineapple, bring out the sweetness of the lobster and pair perfectly with the avocados in the salad,” says Birnie-Visscher. “This wine is 100% Timorasso, making this pairing extra special since the grape variety almost became extinct.” 

Photo by Bill Milne

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