Thursday, June 25, 2009

Last supper #17: Lidia Bastianich

The name alone tells you this one has to be Italian - but that could mean anything. It could be a complicated meal involving numerous courses. Or it could be a simple, classic dish. Fortunately for this cook, it was the latter. For her last supper, Lidia Bastianich wanted linguine with white clam sauce. Easy, enough, right? There was one hitch for me - my husband is horribly allergic to clams so I had to make this when he wasn't around or prepare two dinners.

The perfect occasion presented itself when my Dad recently came back from a trip to Martha's Vineyard. As he often does, he went quahogging on the island and delivered me a fresh dozen littleneck clams. So, while one pan sauteed chicken for Jeff, I whipped up some white clam sauce for myself.

The clams really make the meal. You just can't find any fresher, sweeter clams! When I was little, we vacationed on Martha's Vineyard every summer and one year, we met three islanders who clammed for a living. As we got to know them, they'd give us fresh clams regularly. Most of their catch went to local seafood markets. Over the years they became close friends of my parents. In fact, the woman, Frances just celebrated her 90th birthday! Some years ago, they taught my dad their trade so we now get clams whenever he heads to the island!

Here's my recipe. I improvised a bit so quantities aren't exact. Like more garlic? Add it. Prefer less parsley? Go for it. The only thing you have to get perfect is the clams. Everything else comes together... This serves 1-2, so multiply accordingly. Figure about a dozen small clams per person.

Pasta with white clam sauce

2 cloves garlic, minced
1 pat of butter
1 Tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
1/2 cup white wine
1-2 dozen fresh clams, scrubbed
Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste
Pasta, preferably linguine or angel hair

Prepare pasta according to package directions.

While the pasta is cooking, heat the butter and oil in a pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and saute for about a minute. Don't brown the garlic. Add the white wine and bring to a simmer. Add the clams and parsley and cover the pan. Let the clams steam until they've all just opened. Discard any that don't open.

Season with salt and pepper and pour the whole thing over the cooked pasta.

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