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February, 2008

Delectable Textures to Enhance Taste

By Heidi Allison

Pairing unlikely ingredients is one technique chefs use to grab your attention when creating a salad. Although the slightly sweet, nutty flavor of the roasted pistachio oil may seem like an unusual choice, it works here.
Salad of Baby Field Greens, Lobster and Avocado with Lemon, Basil and Pistachio Oil Vinaigrette
Pairing unlikely ingredients is one technique chefs use to grab your attention when creating a salad. Although the slightly sweet, nutty flavor of the roasted pistachio oil may seem like an unusual choice, it works here. Like all shellfish, lobster has a lingering “iodine” aftertaste; and those medicinal seafood flavors can be softened by sweet ones. Just be sure to accurately measure the tart lemon juice and peppery basil – too much of either will overpower the delicate, sweet taste of the lobster. You won’t feel like you’re cutting calories with this luxurious salad, but you are! Keeping the portion size of the rich avocado small keeps those calories in check, along with lightly dressing the greens. Using top notch ingredients and assembling this dish right before serving ensures perfection every time. Weight loss never tasted so good!

Salad of Baby Field Greens, Lobster and Avocado with Lemon, Basil and Pistachio Oil Vinaigrette
Serves: 2 as an entrée; 4 as a side salad

Salad Dressing
Makes: ¼ cup

1 Tbsp. shallot, minced
½ tsp. kosher salt
1 Tbsp. plus
1 tsp. fresh lemon juice (about ½ large lemon)
Zest of ¼ lemon
¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
½ Tbsp. fresh basil chiffonade (about 2 medium leaves cut into thin slivers)
4 Tbsp. roasted pistachio oil Salad
4 cups packaged, pre-washed baby greens
½ large Hass avocado
1 large lobster tail, steamed and cut into 1 inch chunks (about 4-5 ounces of cooked meat)

Preparation:
Place shallot and salt in a mortar and smash with a pestle into a rough purée. Add lemon juice and smash again to further break down the shallot. Let the shallot purée sit in the lemon juice for 15 minutes, then add black pepper and lemon zest and stir. Pour 1 teaspoon of oil into the shallot purée and stir with a pestle until incorporated. Repeat this process until all the oil is incorporated. Fold the basil into the dressing and set aside. Salad Assembly: Remove the pit from the avocado. Drag a knife lengthwise down the avocado making 4 cuts just to the skin (be careful not to pierce the skin), then run the knife horizontally making 8 cuts. Gently scoop the meat out with a spoon and place diced avocado in a bowl. Place salad greens and lobster meat into a large bowl and drizzle with 3 tablespoons of dressing. Toss with tongs until evenly coated. Place salad on chilled plates and top with avocado. Serve immediately.

Notes from the Author:
It’s crucial that you use roasted pistachio oil in this dish—its slightly sweet, nutty taste is the perfect counterpoint flavor to heighten the subtle, sweet taste of the lobster.