Cost: £2 per generous serving, based on using the £6 frozen cooked lobsters from Lidl.
Chopped salad – all the healthy, virtuous charm of uncooked vegetables but without the ungainly challenge of wrestling leaves onto cutlery and into mouth. This salad is a crunchy confetti that carries the flavour of fancy schmancy lobster and fresh prawns, and served over wholewheat pasta or on toast, it’s an economical way to make special ingredients go further.
I am always really charmed by films or TV shows that involve time travel. The classic charm of Back to the Future, the animated consequences of time-machine overload in Family Guy, some classic (whisper it!) Star Trek, hours of intellectual bafflement courtesy of Dude Where’s My Car, and my personal favourite, the barbershop possibilities so tunefully expressed in How I Met Your Mother.
When I first found out that my now-Husband works as a patent attorney and works with inventors to license creations of an electronic or engineering variety, the first thing I asked about was if anyone had ever invented a time machine. Unfortunately it turned out that he is mostly asked to work on patents for lenses (and once, memorably, a sex toy).
I don’t have a time machine. But I do have a freezer, which is functionally similar for this specific purpose, namely for buying lobsters from Lidl at Christmas when they are sold frozen for £6, and eating them in summer when salad is in season. The lobsters are frozen but already cooked, so they aren’t so great for anything that needs cooking again as they toughen up again, but defrosted, shelled and chopped they are a delight.
Recipe: Chopped Lobster Salad
Serves 6 with pasta or toast on the side
1 lobster, defrosted and shelled (find something good to watch on TV before settling down to tackle this!)
300g cooked prawns, sold with heads and shells – pour boiling water over these to rinse before shelling. Heads and shells can be frozen for an amazing seafood stock.
2 little gem lettuces
200g cherry tomatoes
Small bunch of spring onions
Sesame oil, lime juice, salt and pepper to dress
Japanese sesame dressing or tahini, to serve
1. Shell the lobster and prawns, and reserve/freeze shells for stock. Slice the lobster claws and body into 1cm slices and refrigerate the lobster and prawns in the serving dish.
2. Cut the cucumber into 1cm pieces; bisect the lettuces and slice parallel lines 1cm apart down the length and then chop them into 1cm pieces; quarter the cherry tomatoes and slice the spring onions finely.
3. Toss the vegetables with the lobster and prawns, and dress with a splash of sesame oil, lime juice, salt and pepper.
At this point the salad can be kept in the fridge for up to a day. When ready to serve, drizzle with Japanese sesame dressing for a subtle umami punch. This can be bought at most Asian supermarkets – otherwise, tahini is a good substitute, thinned gradually with water to a drizzling consistency.
Ring the changes by substituting the lobster and prawns for another protein, e.g. chopped cold roast chicken, diced mozzarella, flaked grilled salmon, and add vegetables such as avocado cubes, roasted cauliflower, peppers or aubergines