Roast Lobster with Basil Pesto

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


Appears in

Cooking One on One

Cooking One on One

By John Ash

Published 2004

  • About

Here is one of my favorite recipes using basic pesto. Lobsters are elegant, of course, but lately not so expensive. You can also use this same approach with any fish or shellfish. Before splitting, a lobster can be humanely killed by inserting a knife decisively between its eyes. Alternatively, it can be killed by plunging it into lightly salted boiling water for 2 to 3 minutes. Unfortunately, we don’t know which is preferable to the lobster.


  • 4 whole lobsters (1¼ to 1 ½ pounds each)
  • Basic Basil Pesto
  • 2 cups coarse dry bread crumbs (I like panko)
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil


Preheat the oven to 450°F. Split the lobsters in half lengthwise and gently crack the claws. Remove and discard the long thin intestinal tract that runs the length of the lobster tail and also the lumpy head sac that is located near the eyes. Remove and reserve the pale green liver, called the tomalley, from the body cavity. Also remove and reserve the dark green coral (lobster roe) if present in the female.

Combine the pesto with the tomalley and coral in a blender or food processor and process. (Some people avoid the tomalley because of their concern over environmental toxins, which concentrate in the liver. If you are among those, just discard the tomalley.) In a bowl, stir the bread crumbs, zest, and pesto together to make a light, crumbly mixture. It should not be soggy or pasty; add more bread crumbs if necessary. Divide and top each of the lobster halves with the pesto-bread crumb mixture and drizzle with the olive oil. Roast for 12 to 14 minutes or until the lobsters are just cooked through and the topping is golden brown. The meat should be moist and still very slightly translucent in the center. Serve immediately.