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Lobster Club Salad with Champagne Vinaigrette

It's lobster season! // FoodNouveau.com

It’s one of my favorite times of the year: lobster season! I love cooking with lobster because I find it incredibly versatile. Although many people like to eat lobster straight out of the shell, using the lobster’s meat as the star of a recipe is my favorite way to enjoy it. Its delicate texture and taste makes any dish feel extra special.

This year, I got to taste some of the very first lobsters out of Gaspésie, one of Quebec’s biggest lobster-producing regions. Gaspésie is a peninsula that stretches along the south shore of the St. Lawrence River and into the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Now, I know all the lobster-producing regions will say their lobster is the best, but I must vouch for our own: the cold and clear waters of the Gulf make for an especially sweet and delicate meat. Because we’re lucky enough to have such an abundant source right here in our waters, to us, eating lobster from outside Québec is like pouring maple syrup from Vermont on our crêpes: a cardinal sin!

What I learned this year is that a local nonprofit organization closely monitors fishing methods to make sure lobsters are harvested in a sustainable manner. Plus, lobsters harvested in Gaspésie wear a special tag around their knuckle that says Aliments du Québec (literally, “food from Québec”). This designation, inspired by France’s appellation d’origine contrôlée (that AOC tag you can see on wine, cheeses, and charcuteries) aims at maintaining quality standards and having valuable resources recognized as being part of our terroir. On that tag is also a number that corresponds to the fisherman who harvested the lobster. You can enter that number on the organization’s website to view the lobster’s exact provenance and get more information about the fisherman, see him at work in a short presentation video, and even get his e-mail address—you know, just in case you want to thank him for the goodness that made its way to your plate.

A special tag tracks Québec lobsters from the sea to your plate. // FoodNouveau.com

Information about the fisherman who caught the delightful lobsters we had, and a map of exactly where they were harvested:

Lobster traceability information // FoodNouveau.com

It has become a bit of a tradition for me to share a yearly lobster recipe. This year, I decided to put the amazingly tender Gaspésie lobster meat front and center in a simple dish: a salad inspired by the club sandwich. You can call it a “Deconstructed Lobster Club Salad” if you want to sound trendy. The key to this salad is to use the freshest and best ingredients possible to make sure they highlight the lobster meat in the most delicious way possible. Many lobster salads are dressed with a creamy dressing, but I chose a lighter, oil-based vinaigrette so it carefully seasons the salad, not overwhelms it. If you pop open a bottle of Champagne (or another dry, sparkling wine) to drink with this luxurious salad—why not?—make sure you substitute half the Champagne vinegar for the real thing. That is sure to impress your taste buds and your guests, too.

Lobster Club Salad with Champagne Vinaigrette // FoodNouveau.com

Serves 2

For the vinaigrette
¼ cup [60 ml] extra-virgin olive oil
2 tbsp [30 ml] Champagne vinegar (or half Champagne vinegar, half Champagne wine)
½ tsp [2.5 ml] Dijon mustard
1 small shallot, very finely diced
½ tsp fleur de sel (or sea salt)
Freshly ground black pepper

For the croutons
4 slices best-quality bacon (you can also use thick-sliced bacon and dice it like lardons, or substitute cubed pancetta)
1 cup [250 ml] day-old sourdough bread cubes

For the salad
4 handfuls of mixed baby lettuce leaves (a mesclun mix is perfect)
1 ripe avocado, peeled, pit removed, flesh cut in large cubes
½ cup [125 ml] cherry tomatoes, halved
2 lobsters of about 1¼ lbs [550 g] each, cooked, meat carefully removed from the shells and cut into chunks (keep the claws intact for a beautiful presentation)
Chives, to serve (optional)

To make the vinaigrette: Add all the ingredients in a small jar with a tight-fitting lid. Shake vigorously to emulsify the vinaigrette. Reserve.

To make the croutons: Preheat a pan over medium heat. Cook the bacon slices until crispy. Turn off the heat, remove the bacon slices and drain on a plate covered with paper towels. Remove almost all of the bacon fat from the pan, leaving only a very thin layer. Turn the heat back on to medium and add the diced bread cubes. Sauté until the cubes are golden on all sides. Spoon the cubes out of the pan and onto a plate so they cool down while you assemble the salad.

To assemble the salad: Put the lettuce leaves in a large bowl. Pour just enough vinaigrette to lightly coat the leaves, then season with fleur de sel and freshly ground black pepper. Divide the dressed lettuce leaves between two large, shallow plates. Top each portion with avocado, cherry tomatoes, croutons, and bacon torn into pieces. Divide the lobster meat between the two plates. Sprinkle with chopped chive (if desired) and serve immediately, with more vinaigrette on the side.

Lobster Club Salad with Champagne Vinaigrette // FoodNouveau.com

Recipe Credit: Marie Asselin.
A very sincere thank you to Marie Morneau, representative for the 
Regroupement professionnel des pêcheurs du Sud de la Gaspésie for providing the two delightful Gaspésie lobsters featured in this post.

Download this recipe in PDF format - Food Nouveau

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