Insalata di Aragosta con Peperoni Arrostiti (Lobster and Roasted-Pepper Salad)

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`There is no need for salt, garlic, or onion,' writes Julia della Croce of this dish. `The natural intensity of both the lobster and the peppers is more than sufficient; another bold element would only be an intrusion. But a touch of fresh basil marries flavors in a lovely way.'

1 yellow bell pepper

1 red bell pepper

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2 live lobsters (1-1/4 to

1-1/2 lbs. each)

Extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon freshly squeezed

lemon juice

12 fresh basil leaves,

torn into pieces

Roast the peppers (about 30 minutes in an oven preheated to 400 degrees F.) until they are charred all over and tender inside, turning them frequently to ensure that they blacken evenly. Peel the skins, cut the peppers in half, and remove and discard stems, ribs, and seeds. (Don't do this under running water; it will wash away some of the smoky flavor.) Cut peppers into strips about 1/2 inch wide and 2 inches long, and set aside.

While the peppers are roasting, pour water to a depth of 1 inch in the bottom of a steamer pan with a tight-fitting lid and bring to a boil. Place the live lobsters in the steamer insert and cover the steamer. Close any vent holes on the lid.

Cook over medium heat until the lobsters turn bright red, 12 to 15 minutes.

Remove the lobsters from the pot. When they are cool enough to handle, remove the tail and claw meat from the shells. Remove the intestinal vein that runs down the center of each tail. Cut the lobster meat into bite-sized pieces.

In an attractive serving bowl, combine the lobster meat with the pepper strips. Drizzle with olive oil to taste and then the lemon juice. Sprinkle with the basil. Serve warm or at room temperature. Serves 3 to 4.

Note: This dish can be assembled up to 8 hours in advance, covered, and refrigerated. The peppers can be roasted, cleaned, and cut 3 to 4 days in advance. Bring the dish to room temperature before serving.

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