For the love of food...come on the food adventure with me.
Although I have made this recipe many times using canned minced clams, yesterday was the first time I ever made it with live clams in the shell. Why? Because they weren't available until recently -- that's why! However, I noticed that my favorite grocer had begun carrying them regularly and I decided to try making this classic Italian favorite. The pictures I'd seen of bowls of pasta and open shells cradling tasty morsels of clam looked ravishing. Could I really make something as lovely? Yes, I can and it was as quick and easy as anything I have ever attempted.
First I had to get the clams home on a hot humid day and keep them alive until time to make the recipe. The gentleman at the fish counter told me to keep them on ice and suggested I cook them right away. He packed a bag of ice to put next to the clams and instructed me to keep the plastic bag open so that the little suckers could breathe. Clams must be alive. Cooking dead clams is a big no-no. First I put them in a bowl and poured the ice over them. A few minutes later I wondered if I had done the right thing. A quick Google search told me that I had not. Clams might freeze or suffocate if left submerged in crushed ice. I dumped the clams and ice into a colander and put the clams in a bowl in the refrigerator until zero hour arrived.
My clams were farm raised so I didn't have to worry about purging them. If you dig up the clams yourself, you need to submerge them in sea water for 18 hours to get them to give up all the sand and grit they are hiding in their shells. At that point, it seems a little too much like a science fair project for me. If you live somewhere that you can actually go out and dig your own clams, I imagine you are well-versed in all clam purging methods and need no advice from a light weight like me.
There are few ingredients in this recipe so it is important to make sure you buy excellent quality. Buy some good Italian linguine made using bronze molds. Buy some very good olive oil. I decided to break out the 30 euro olive oil I had purchased at the duty free shop in Lisbon. Use a decent wine that you would drink yourself. I used a mid-price Sauvignon Blanc.
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
12 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
30 clams ( you need a lot because some are invariably duds)
¼ cup Minced Parsley plus an extra two tablespoons to garnish at the end
½ cup white wine
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons lemon zest
2/3 pound linguine
Boil salted water for the pasta. Once you have a rolling boil, add the pasta. While it cooks, you have all the time you need to make the clam sauce.
Heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Add the garlic and brown for approximately 1 minute or until fragrant and golden. Be careful not to burn it. Add the clams and the parsley and stir frequently for 2 minutes. Add the wine and simmer for two minutes more. Add the lemon juice and zest. Cover and simmer for 6 minutes. Discard any unopened clams. Toss with the pasta. Add salt and pepper to taste. I also sprinkled the past with crushed red pepper flake. Garnish with remaining parsley and serve.
This recipe served two generously, but could easily be stretched to serve three. If you want to serve four, add another 10 clams and increase the other ingredients proportionately. Use one pound of linguine.
Pour up a crisp cold glass of while wine and dig in.
Enjoy la dolce vita!