I originally went into the fish store to buy the the cod for this dish. But, I got distracted by clams in the corner of the store. In an almost trance-like state, I forgot about the cod and started to select clams, deciding that tonight would be the night that I'd make shellfish for the first time. I have been thinking about making some sort of shellfish since I started foodblogging.
After spending some time to select the closed clams whose shells were not cracked, my bags full of market produce (you can see the full load here) began to get heavy and my senses came back to me. I paid for the cod and clams and quickly left the store before the urge to buy more fish came back.
I've had Proud Italian Cook's Oven Baked Clams in my mind as inspiration for quite a while now. Marie over at Proud Italian Cook has a wonderful blog where she features a variety of delicious looking (you guessed it) Italian food. Go check her out - you won't regret it!
Today's recipe is inspired by Proud Italian Cook. But, since it's mainly an original recipe, I am entering this recipe in Lore at Culinarty's Original Recipe Monthly Roundup. Isn't that the way most original recipes come about? You see other recipes that you like and then modify them to your own specific tastes.
15 clams ( 2 lbs)- should have used less for 2 people
3 hot Italian sausages (will try chorizo next time)
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
3-4 garlic clove
Handful of fresh basil and Italian oregano
Red pepper flakes
1/3 cup of white wine
a couple handfulls of cherry tomatoes
1 large can of diced tomatoes
Lots of fresh ground pepper
Clean your clams. Here are some instructions. I would even soak the clams for longer - over an hour. Change the water every 20 minutes or so. Any other tips are welcome!
When the clams are relatively close to being clean (or when they are clean), start frying your Italian sausage. As I said, above, I would probably try a drier sausage, like chorizo, next time. The sausage was good - but the texture was more ground than sliced.
While the sausage is cooking, add desired amount of garlic. I love garlic - so I use 4-5 fair-sized pieces, minced. Start boiling your water for the pasta. When the sausage is ready, take it out of the frying pan. Deglaze the pan with some white wine. Let it reduce for a minute or so and then add diced tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper (as desired). Add your pasta to the boiling water. Then add the clams to the moderately boiling tomato-wine base.
When the clams are close to being fully open, add the meat back to the mixture. Add basil, oregano and any other desired seasoning.
When clams do open, combine with your cooked pasta and plate right away.
Verdict - I really enjoyed this dish but would make some changes for next time. I would probably use smaller or fewer clams. I also rushed the cleaning of the clams and found a couple of gritty pieces (not my favourite texture in the world). As I mentioned, I would also try chorizo instead of hot Italian sausage.
But, I very much enjoyed the base of the sauce. A basic tomato, wine and basil base is very satisfying. Actually, I enjoyed the whole dish (so did R), but there's room for improvement.