Thursday, May 10, 2012

Happy As A Clam!

last weekend we went to the coast, where we have a small house just north of long beach, washington. long beach is on a 22 mile long peninsula in southwest washington.  the peninsula is surrounded by the pacific ocean on one side and  willapa bay on the other side.  we always have a fun, relaxing time when we go.  here is the link to the long beach peninsula website.  it is full of information on all the activities you can enjoy if you go.  one of our favorite activities to do there is clamming.  when there is a minus tide (meaning an extremely low tide) we drive about 45 minutes around to the mainland side of willapa bay to our favorite clamming spot, and we get out our rakes and bags and start digging for steamer clams. 

if we pick the right spot, every draw of the rake across the sand can yield at least one clam, sometimes more.  shellfish licenses are required, and each person can keep up to 40 clams.  on this day, my husband, my son and i limited out in less than 30 minutes! here are the results of our labor:

i couldn't wait to make our favorite clam recipe for dinner.  it is chef mario batali's recipe for manila clams with pancetta, red chiles and linguine:

1 lb linguine *
1/2 medium red onion, finely minced
1/4 lb pancetta, cut into 1/8th inch dice(our local trader joe's sells packaged diced pancetta that is perfect)**
4 cloves garlic, peeled and finely diced (i use about 2 cloves of garlic -- 4 is too much for me)
6 tblsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp crushed red chile pepper
1 lb manila clams, scrubbed and rinsed
2 cups white wine ***
4 tblsp unsalted butter
1 bunch italian parsley, finely chopped (yield 1/4 cup) (i use dried if fresh isn't available)

bring 6 quarts of water to a boil and add 2 tblsp salt.

in a large saute pan, saute red onion, pancetta and garlic over medium heat until onion is very soft and pancetta is translucent, about 10 minutes.  Add hot chiles clams, white wine and butter and bring to a boil.  cook until all clams have opened, and then set aside.

boil linguine according to package instructions. while softened but still firm, drain in colander over sink and toss into pan with clams and stir gently to mix.  this should still be a little broth-like.  add chopped parsley, pour into warm serving bowls and serve.

* as we are still mostly wheat and grain free, my husband and i had our clams served over zucchini "noodles" -- zucchini that had been cut julienne style and sauteed until it was just starting to soften. 

** i didn't have pancetta available at the time, so i used a pound of bacon that had been diced and sauteed it with the onion.

*** instead of 2 cups of white wine, i used 1 cup of white wine, 1 cup of bottled clam juice and about a 1/2 cup of chicken stock.  that is just how we like it.  i have made it with only the white wine as well, and it is still delicious!

here are the clams as they are cooking:

  and the finished product . . .

i served the clams with a big bowl of roasted mixed veggies for my husband and i, and with noodles sprinkled with parmesan cheese for my son (he is not totally grain free . . . yet!)..  we all scarfed it down in no time.  it was delicious!!!

i hope you are able to try the recipe sometime.  thanks for reading!

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