Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Seafood Season: Spaghetti with Clams

It is the time of the year when fast food chains start advertising their “fresh fish sandwich” on television commercials, and most restaurants will serve clam chowder as their soup du jour on Fridays. We also know this time as Lent. Dietarily speaking, Fridays during Lent are no different than any other day of the year for me, however we make special consideration for my husband to avoid meat. This means lots of seafood in our house, which makes us both happy.

I began making a clam and pasta recipe when I was a teenager. It was one of the recipes in my repertoire that I would cook on my own. A few years ago, I found a similar recipe by Giada de Laurentiis. We tried it, and with her alterations, we quickly let her Spaghetti with Clams take the place of our old Clam Sauce with Linguine.

The old version that I made used dried herbs and a regular onion. Giada’s use fresh parsley, lemon zest, and shallots, making it taste so bright and fresh. Her recipe calls for Manila clams, but to keep this recipe easier and more affordable, I use canned clams. If you decide to use canned clams, this recipe is pantry-friendly (most of the ingredients you can keep on-hand), and easy to make any night of the week!

Spaghetti with Clams

(Adapted from Everyday Italian)
1 pound dried spaghetti
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 shallots, thinly sliced
5 to 7 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 ½ pounds Manila clams, scrubbed clean (Kate uses 2 or 3 cans (6.5 oz.) minced clams, drained)
½ cup fresh parsley, chopped
½ cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, diced into small cubes
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 lemon, zested, for garnish

In a large pot, bring to a boil 6 quarts of salted water. Add pasta, stirring constantly in the beginning to prevent it from sticking together. Cook until al dente, about 8 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan. When almost smoking, add shallots and garlic and sauté until soft and translucent, about 3 to 4 minutes, being careful not to burn the garlic. Add the clams and wine. Cover and simmer for 6 to 8 minutes or until most clams have opened. (If using canned clams, cook until thoroughly heated.)

Add 2 tablespoons chopped parsley. Whisk in butter to thicken sauce slightly.

Drain pasta in a colander. Do not rinse pasta with water - this will remove the pasta's natural starches. Place pasta into the clam sauté pan and mix thoroughly. Check seasoning.

Pour pasta into large serving bowl. Zest lemon over the dish, being careful not to zest the white part of the lemon, which is bitter. Garnish with remaining parsley. Serve immediately.

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