Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Behold the Delicious Clam

I have loved clams all my life, beginning with my Grandma Kaloutsis' clams and rice dish, which as I recall had a tomato base and was absolutely reeking of garlic (as did we, after dinner). My dad had to take bicarbonate of soda after our Friday night dinners but my brothers and I had no problem eating that dish. The clam dish I'm writing about now is also Mediterranean, but distinctively Italian. This recipe is a little different from the usual; I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

First of all, a clam isn't a clam isn't a clam. I particularly like littlenecks, such as Manilas or the beautiful cockles with green shells. Steamer clams, such as the ones I just used are fine. Get small to medium clams, alive and snapped shut tight. I usually use generic dried linguine pasta but this time I tried Trader Joe's Garlic Herb Linguine, which was tasty but has a softer texture. I love lots of clams so I make this recipe heavy on clams and lighter on pasta. I thought I was still hungry but about 20 minutes after eating I felt full. However, if you are a big eater and not eating light like me, pile on the pasta.

Since I wanted to lighten up this dish, bacon is conspicuously absent. If you want it I recommend pancetta (unsmoked Italian bacon), cut into medium dice and cooked until browned, then adding the rest of the ingredients.

Linguine & Clams

Serves 2

1/2 to 1 full jalapeño, split lengthwise and seeded
2 teaspoons olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1 teaspoon minced garlic cloves (or use a garlic press)
2 shakes red pepper flakes
1 1/2 pounds fresh, live clams in their shells
1/4 cup dry white wine
4 ounces dry linguine
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons chopped flatleaf parsley
juice and zest of one lemon
shredded fresh parmesan
cheese, if and as desired

Heat oven to 400° and brush your jalapeño with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake on a sheet for 10 to 15 minutes, until pepper is soft. Let cool and chop finely. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and cook the linguine according to the package instructions, preferable to al dente (Goldilocks style - just right).

Meanwhile, heat your large nonstick saute pan with the oil and and saute the jalapeño, garlic and pepper flakes for 1 minute. Turn up the heat and add the clams and wine and cover. Remove the clams to a bowl as they open so they won't overcook and become mushy. Your pasta should be just about done so add the butter, parsley, lemon zest and juice to the pan along with
the clams. Mix in the drained pasta and parsley. Divide up into two plates and dig in.

I confess I have never served this to company, not sure why. But if you want to serve four clamophiles, up your clam count to about 3 pounds and use a pound of linguine. Add a little more butter, maybe a little more wine and you're good. Just don't forget the lemon.

Dessert-to-die-for alert: last month Paul and I took my mother to Filoli Mansion and Gardens in Woodside for a fun birthday outing. We took the two (yes, two) hour tour of the mansion and amazing gardens. So worth the trip over the San Mateo Bridge and a wee bit farther. At the end of our tour our docent (tour guide) told me we must go to Buck's in Woodside for the boysenberry cobbler. Since she said it was to die for I signed us up. Woodside is an extremely small place and Buck's is no problem to find. I told our server we were there for the boysenberry cobbler experience and she confirmed that it was the smart thing to do. It was served very warm, in a crock, with lots of crusty bits, and a slab of vanilla ice cream on top. The three of us shared it without too much fighting and pronounced it excellent. I look forward to going back. I just won't drink the coffee again.

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