Sunday, July 18, 2010

Fresh Clams over Linguine

It's time to branch out beyond the standard seafood fare of fish, shrimp, and scallops.  Out of habit, or out of fear, most of us tend to stick with what we know - especially with regards to food.

I decided to change things up a bit this weekend by creating a pasta around fresh littleneck clams.  Honestly, preparing clams couldn't be easier, and because they are often neglected by consumers, most markets are willing to offer these little guys at a very reasonable price.  The next time you are considering paying $15 - $20 per pound for jumbo shrimp or sea scallops, pick up a bag of clams.  Their sweet and delicate meat is sure to satisfy you and your beautiful dining partner.

I upped the ante by stopping off to visit Tom Lazzaroli to pick up some of his fresh linguine at Lazzaroli pasta.  I went with his straw/hay variety to add a bit more color to the final product.  As always, Tom's pasta was perfect.  For those outside of Nashville, do a little research on Italian markets in your hometown. Whenever possible, it's always best to use fresh ingredients.

I created a simple appetizer with a few odds and ends I had lying around.  Toasted French bread, sliced Salumi Hot Soppressatta, shaved Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, and a jarred bruschetta mix a friend of mine brought back for me from Paris.  Sounds fancy, but incredibly easy.  4 kick-ass ingredients, simply served together.

Finally, I paired everything up with a nice French Bourgogne Blanc (Chardonnay) wine.  An oak-y California Chardonnay or a Chilean Sauvignon Blanc would also work nicely.

Fresh Clams over Linguine - when working with clams, it's important to only use those that are tightly closed.  Discard any clams that have opened before cooking.  Serve some toasted French bread on the side of this meal to 'sop' up the juices from the bottom of the bowl.  

Kosher Salt
Fresh Cracked Pepper
8 oz Fresh Linguine Pasta
4 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
6 Cloves Garlic, minced
1 Pinch Red Pepper Flakes
1 Lemon, zest and juice
1 Can Diced Tomatoes
2 Tablespoons Chopped Italian Parsley
1/4 Cup Dry White Wine (see above)
25 - 30 Fresh Littleneck Clams, thoroughly rinsed
2 Tablespoons Cold Unsalted Butter, diced
Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese, grated 

Heat a large pot of salted water to boiling.  Meanwhile, in a large stainless skillet over medium high heat, add olive oil; heat until oil runs fast and shimmers in the pan.  Add garlic, red pepper flakes, and 1 tablespoon of lemon zest and saute 45 seconds - 1 minute, careful not to brown.  Next add diced tomatoes, the juice of 1/2 lemon, and simmer until mixture is reduced by half; about 3 minutes.  Add wine and chopped parsley and simmer for another 2 - 3 minutes; add a pinch of kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste.  Add clams to mixture, cover tightly, and cook 4 -5 minutes, or until clam shells have completely opened.  Add pasta to boiling water and cook until just under al dente, 3 - 4 minutes.  When clams have opened and pasta is cooked, strain pasta and add into the pan with the clams and sauce; add butter.  Thoroughly toss pasta with the other ingredients to ensure an even coat.  Garnish with remaining parsley and top with grated cheese to taste.


tim said...

Do you turn down the heat when you cook the clams?

Cook said...

Tim - keep the heat on medium high. The idea is to add enough heat, cover, and 'steam' to build enough pressure to steam the clams and open the shells. - Matt M

tim said...

Thanks! Trying it tonight.

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