Lunchbreak: Lobster and green tomato with cauliflower salad

Ravinia’s Executive Chef, Michael Tsonton


200 Ravinia Park Rd.

Highland Park, IL


Lobster & Green Tomato with Caramelized Cauliflower Salad – Celery-Honey Mustard Vinaigrette

Serves 4

2 each 1 ¼ pound Live Maine Lobsters

1 large pot boiling water – for cooking lobster


3 each – green tomatoes – cored and cut into a medium dice

1 each head – green cauliflower – remove about a 1 inch of the bottom core and tough outer leaves

1 each – hearts of celery

¾ cup extra virgin olive

Kosher salt


½ cup celery juice – details below

¼ cup honey

2 tablespoons yellow mustard

¼ cup Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons whole grain mustard

¼ cup red wine vinegar

½ cup canola oil

Kosher salt

Fresh ground black pepper


For the lobster:

Bring the large pot of water back to a boil. Add more ice to the ice water bath if necessary. Using a large Chef’s knife, humanly kill the lobsters by plunging the knife directly at the top of the lobsters head through to the bottom. This kills the lobster instantly. However the lobster will still be moving, but don’t freak out!

Using a kitchen towel, gently remove the lobster arm, disconnecting it from the body where it’s attached. Leave the claws attached to the arm, or knuckle. Reserve the 4 pieces. Next disconnect the tail from the lobster using the kitchen towel and gently twisting the tail. Remove any of the lobster’s liver (tamale) and discard.

Cook the arm/claws first by carefully placing them into the boiling water. Set a timer for 7 minutes. Then remove the lobster pieces and place them into the ice bath to cool completely. Carefully add the tails into the boiling water and set a timer for 5 minutes. Then remove them also to the ice water bath to cool completely.

Removing the lobster meat:

Again, using a kitchen towel, disconnect the claws the arm (knuckle) by twisting. Carefully snap off the small claw piece and discard. Using the back of your large chef knife, carefully break the claw by hitting it in the center until it cracks open. Gently remove the claw meat and reserve. Discard the lobster shells. Repeat with the remaining 3 claws. Using a pair of lobster crackers, carefully crack the lobster arms (knuckles) and remove the meat and reserve with the claw meat. Again, discard the lobster shells. To remove the tail meat, snap the flipper end off of the tail and using your thumb, gently push the lobster meat out the tail. Reserve the lobster meat with the remaining lobster. Discard the shells.

Cut the lobster meat into large chunks, about ½ inch and place the lobster meat in a mixing bowl. Reserve cold.

For the salad:

Pre-heat the oven to 450F. Use a heavy cookie sheet, drizzle the pan with ¼ cup of the extra virgin olive. Cut the cauliflower into thick slices, about a 1 ½” and lay the cauliflower on the pan. Then drizzle a ¼ cup olive oil on the cauliflower. Season the cauliflower with a little kosher salt. Roast in the oven until golden brown, about fifteen minutes. Allow to cool then cut the cauliflower in t a medium dice and reserve at room temperature. Mix in diced green tomato.

Remove the 4 or 5 outer ribs of the celery heart and reserve for the juice. Remove the inner leaves and reserve in ice water. Slice the remaining celery heart on a medium bias. Heat a cast iron pan on a high heat. Add the cut celery and the remaining ¼ cup olive oil to the hot pan. Season the celery with a little kosher salt. Without moving the celery, allow the vegetable to char for 3-4 minutes. Then stir it and remove from the heat. Add to the cauliflower reserved at room temperature.

For the dressing:

Rough chop the reserved celery ribs and place into a blender with ½ cup of cold water. Puree the celery until it’s very broken down and liquidly. Strain the celery juice through a fine mesh strainer reserving a ½ cup. (feel free to chill the remaining juice for a later use or even as a drink!)

In the same blender cup add the celery juice, honey, yellow mustard, the Dijon mustard, whole grain mustard and the red wine vinegar. Blend for a minute, and then while the blender is running, slowly add the canola oil until incorporated. Season with kosher salt and black pepper.

For the dish:

In a mixing bowl, toss the vegetables with some of the dressing. Correct the seasoning if necessary.

Toss the reserved lobster meat with a little of the dressing too. Reserve some dressing for the plate.

Divide the salad onto 4 dinner plates and arrange the lobster meat on top of the vegetables. Drizzle the remaining dressing around the plate and garnish with the celery leaves and a little fresh cracked black pepper.