Lobster and Quinoa Risotto

Detroit, Michigan

The quinoa adds some great earthy flavors to this dish, and is unusual. Quinoa is high in protein, which makes the dish very nutritious. It also produces a starch gel, similar to that of risotto, which gives it kind of a silky texture. The combination of lobster and quinoa is one that I really like—the mineral and earthy components of the lobster and the quinoa are very complementary. From a taste point of view, they tend to “cancel each other out” somewhat, so that each one on its own doesn’t seem as strong.


  • 2 red bell peppers
  • 2 (1-1 1/2 pound) live lobsters
  • 2 cups quinoa
  • 4 cups homemade vegetable broth or low-sodium vegetable broth from bouillon cubes
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup diced red onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1 tablespoon New Mexican ground chiles or mild Hungarian paprika
  • kosher salt (optional)
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup corn kernels, cut from the cob (2-3 ears corn)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 4 sprigs fresh basil or other herb


  1. Roast the peppers by placing them whole on an open gas flame or outdoor grill, or under the broiler. Cook, rotating on all sides, for about ten minutes, until the skins are black. Put the peppers in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Allow to cool for 15 minutes. Using your hands, peel off the charred skin. Discard the cores, stems, and seeds. Dice the roasted peppers and set aside.
  2. Plunge the lobsters headfirst into a large pot of boiling water and cook for 5 to 6 minutes. Transfer them to a colander and cool under cold running water. Cut the lobsters in half lengthwise and remove the meat from the tails, legs, and claws. Keep the lobster claw meat intact in large pieces and reserve for garnish. Cut the tail meat into 3 to 4 pieces each. Cover the lobster meat with plastic wrap and set aside.
  3. Put the quinoa into a fine strainer and rinse under cold running water to remove any residue of its bitter husks. Drain thoroughly.
  4. Bring the vegetable broth to a boil in a medium saucepan. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook for 4 to 5 minutes, until tender. Add the chile powder and quinoa and cook for about 2 minutes until hot, stirring to prevent sticking.
  5. Remove the pan from the heat and carefully pour the boiling broth over the quinoa. Return to heat and bring to a simmer, stirring. Season to taste with salt and a generous dose of black pepper. Cook for about 8 minutes, stirring frequently, until most of the liquid is absorbed but the quinoa is still moist.
  6. Add the corn, roasted peppers, and lobster to the quinoa and cook for about 3 minutes, until heated through. Add the basil and cook the risotto gently for about 2 minutes longer, until the risotto is slightly moist and creamy. Stir often.
  7. Place a generous serving of risotto in the center of each plate. Take care to divide the lobster evenly among the plates and top each serving with a piece of claw meat. Garnish each with a sprig of basil and serve.