The first time I remember eating steamed clams was at Gladstone’s on the beach in Malibu on the California coast. The sun was sparkling off the blue pacific and the air was briny and clean.
A galvanized pail arrived like I’d used as a kid to make sand castles on the beach. It was filled with fresh steamed clams and nothing more. With my face over the pail, I breathed in the heavenly aroma. It smelled like the ocean. I’ve been a fan of steamed clams ever since.
Santa Monica Farmers Market
Recently I picked up a netted bag of beautiful little manila clams at the Santa Monica Famers Market. They were from Carlsbad Aquafarm in Carlsbad, CA. With a craving for linguine with clams I couldn’t wait to cook them for dinner.
Clams should have a fresh, clean ocean scent when you buy them, not a strong or fishy smell. The shells should be clean, unbroken and tightly closed or close when tapped (as they are alive). I purchase one pound per person. Clams are best cooked within a day of purchase. To store, place them in a large bowl, ice in the bottom, place clams on ice and cover with a damp paper towel.
A Quick and Easy Dinner
In addition to tasting wonderful, cooking clams is fast and easy. You can have dinner on the table in just minutes with a few basic ingredients you probably have in your pantry. They are steamed in white wine with a little oil and herbs. As soon as they pop open they are ready to enjoy.
Serve clams over a bowl of whole wheat linguine and added garlic toast to soak up the flavorful juices. A fast and simple dinner so good, we had it again a few days later. Note – If you eat gluten-free as we now do, serve clams over brown rice pasta. My favorite brand is Jovial. Find it at better markets and online.
Linguine with Clams, A Fast Dinner
Servings: 2 (doubles easily, you may need two pots)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 medium shallot, chopped fine or sliced thin
- 2 garlic cloves, chopped fine
- Juice and zest of 1 lemon (preferably a Meyer)
- 1-2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley or cilantro
- 1/3 cup white wine
- pinch of red chili flakes
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- few pinches black pepper
- pepper to taste
- 2 pounds fresh clams (Manila or Littleneck)
- 4 ounces pasta noodles of your choice
- Put a large pot of water on to boil for pasta. When it reaches a boil, add salt and pasta, set timer and cook according to package directions.
- In a large deep pot with a tight fitting lid, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add shallot and cook until soft but not browned, stirring. Add garlic and lemon zest and cook 30 seconds.
- Add wine, lemon juice, chile flakes, salt and pepper. Turn heat up and quickly bring to a boil. Add clams and cover tightly with a lid. Shake pan occasionally to distribute clams as they cook. Give clams 3-5 minutes then peak under lid. Clams are done when they are all open.
- When pasta is done, drain, divide between warmed bowls, top with clams, sprinkle with parsley and serve hot. Add more lemon juice, salt or pepper as desired.
Note – discard any clams that do not open.
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