To spice things up during COVID cooking monotony last year, Charlie and I started treating ourselves to a few fancy pants ingredients that had never been on our usual rotation. Unfortunately, once we had a taste for the finer things we couldn’t just hit it and quit it. Which is how this spicy lobster pasta recipe came to be a regular in our kitchen.
A few years ago when we went on our Italian road trip, we had an insane lobster spaghetti in Porto Ercole – the perfect mix of fresh tomatoes, herbs, white wine and butter. I’ve been dreaming of it ever since.
We’ve made this lobster pasta many different ways, sometimes with leeks instead of shallots – or in my low fodmap SIBO days, with only fresh tomatoes and garlic oil. If you don’t drink wine, you can substitute clam juice or fish stock. Red chile flakes give the pasta it’s necessary kick, and you can also swap fresh red chiles if you can find them.
The key to making this spicy lobster pasta sing is not overpowering the lobster meat. Because of this, I prefer not to use a bottled red sauce and just a few tablespoons of tomato paste to give the juices a little extra color and tomato flavor (you can also omit!). If you can tolerate butter, a few pats at the end never hurt. It’s an extravagant meal, after all!
While lobster is expensive, you don’t need too much of it for this pasta dish. A third of a pound doesn’t look too impressive in the bag, but once you chop it up, it stretches nicely with the pasta. You could also easily make this simple summer spaghetti with shrimp if lobster is too rich for your blood.
We are lucky in that most of the seafood stores on Martha’s Vineyard have pre-cooked fresh lobster meat. But if you don’t mind the extra work, just buy one 2-pound lobster, boil it, and mine for the meat. You can even use some of the juices in place of the pasta water to add more seafood flavor to the sauce.
When we aren’t in New York, one of my favorite places to source uncooked lobster meat is Butcher Box. They have fantastic deals on ethically sourced meats and recently introduced seafood. The frozen lobster is a specialty item and isn’t always included in the membership, but when it is we stock up – it’s only $16 for half a pound, versus $35 at our local store!
Like many of the best Italian dishes, this simple lobster pasta is best finished with fresh basil and a handful of arugula for a peppery bite. You can drizzle a good quality olive oil over it and give it a spritz of a lemon wedge. The brightness really offsets the spicy sauce.
Read on for this spicy lobster spaghetti recipe!
With health and hedonism,
Spicy Lobster Pasta with Cherry Tomatoes and Arugula
If lobster is too rich for your blood, you could also easily make this with shrimp. You can use raw or cooked lobster meat. If the former, it cooks fairly quickly – about 3 minutes over medium heat. If the latter, you don’t want to overcook it, so just add to the pan for a minute over the flame and then take it off the heat. My favorite (and cheapest!) place to get fresh lobster meat is via Butcher Box.
- 12 ounces gluten-free spaghetti or linguine
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 shallots thinly sliced
- 2 garlic cloves smashed
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes halved
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- Sea salt
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- ½ cup dry white wine
- 1/3 pound lobster meat see note
- 2 tablespoons butter optional
- 1/3 cup basil leaves roughly torn
- 5 ounces arugula
- 1 lemon cut into wedges
Bring a large pot of salted water to boil over high heat. Cook the pasta according to package directions, reserving ¼ cup of pasta water. Drain and set aside.
Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Sauté the shallot and garlic until the shallot is translucent, 3 minutes. Add the cherry tomatoes and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until they are soft and have released their juices. Stir in the tomato paste and season with ½ teaspoon salt and red pepper flakes. Cook for one minute more. Pour in the wine and simmer until reduced by half, about 1 minute. Carefully fold in the lobster meat and butter (if using). If beginning with cooked lobster, remove from the heat. If raw, sauté for 3 minutes until tender.
Add the reserved pasta and pasta water to the pan and toss to combine. Transfer to a platter (or serve directly from the skillet) and top with the basil and arugula. Enjoy immediately with lemon wedges on the side.