Monday, October 18, 2010

Variations on a mollusk

I find quite a few recipes on the Food Network. This time, I found two, took elements from each and came up with something I'm calling Linguine Oreganata with clams.

It's a little hard to quantify my white clam sauce. It involves clams, clam juice, lemon juice, garlic, white wine and a load of fresh parsley.  It's a refreshing dish, more for spring and summer than fall, and I thought I'd try finding a red clam sauce recipe. Best one I've ever had came from Christiano's restaurant in Syosset, Long Island. If you're a Billy Joel fan, this is allegedly the Italian Restaurant his song "Scenes From" was written about.

I found this one by Robin Miller and thought it worth a try, though I was planning to  substitute either wine or beer along with the clam juice for the chicken broth. I wanted to taste the clams, not chicken. Unfortunately the people who deliver my groceries had other ideas and didn't include the thyme or basil.

I'd heard of a dish called clams oreganata, and I wondered if it might translate to a pasta dish. I found Giada DiLaurentis, who despite looking like she'd break if you hugged her too hard, seems to have a good eye, tongue and nose for Italian food (never trust a skinny cook!). I pulled some ideas from her recipe, skipping the mint, and came up with this, which generously served 2:

3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 T minced shallot
2 T butter
2 T olive oil
1/2 cup white wine (I used a pinot grigio)
1 T lemon juice
1 6.5 oz can minced clams (Snow's is what I get in New England)
3/4 cup chopped tomatoes
1/4 cup fresh oregano
1 T dried parsley
bread crumbs
linguine (I used fresh from Buittoni)

Put water on for the pasta to boil

heat the butter and the olive oil in a large pan over medium low heat until the butter is melted. Stir in the garlic and shallot, stirring occasionally until they are translucent and just starting to turn brown.
Stir in the clams, the juice from the clams, the wine and the lemon juice until well-blended
Cook pasta until just tender, drain.
Add the tomatoes to the pan, salt and pepper to taste. Stir in parsley
Add oregano and cook for two minutes more.

Toss the clam/tomato mixture with the pasta. The pasta will absorb most of the liquid. Put onto plates, top with bread crumbs. Serve with white wine.

I was really pleased with the results. The flavors were subtle, but I could taste each individual note while I was enjoying it. Ken said I could use more clams next time. If I do that, I'll probably up the oregano and white wine as well. If you try it and have improvements, let me know!

How do you like your clams?

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