I feel like this is one of those quintessential summer meals.
Right now, I am all about the quintessential summer meals. As we enter into our last full month of summer (WHAT!!!) I am making sure I really live it up. And by live it up, I really only mean eat it up. And by eat it up, I really mean all of summer’s “bestest” foods. This means berries, zucchini, peppers, tons of corn, hatch chiles, peaches, nectarines, plums, cherries, TOMATOES, seafood, grilled everything and probably even some more eggplant too.
I’m kind of excited and hoping it’s gonna be a pretty delicious second half to summer!
Alright, so growing up I didn’t even know what a clam was. Until I made this pasta I had never – not even once – had clams. No clam bakes or clam pastas. I know, I grew up so sheltered from all things seafood. While actually, I grew up sheltered from a lot of foods, but as I get older I think it is my mission to change that.
A while back my cousin, Maggie had asked if I could make linguine and clams. It was kind of a busy week as I recall so I put it off. If I am being honest, I wasn’t all that excited about the request either. To me, it just sounded kind of average and typical, plus I wasn’t really sure how I could put my own spin on it since I was not familiar with clams. But then the other day I got the idea of cooking clams in my head. I must have seen a pretty picture of them or something because I suddenly really wanted to make clams. I had it SO in my head that the next day I scrapped what I was supposed to be doing, went to the store, bought all the clams they had, and made this pasta.
Surprisingly, clams are really easy to cook.
Double the surprise though? I actually really like clams.
The only reason I say double is because there was a point during the cooking process when things started to smell really fishy. When that happened, I got nervous. I am not a huge fan of overly fishy dishes.
I kept going though and surprisingly, they turned out pretty good.
I have to say though, clams are not the cutest things to look at. Actually they are a little creepy, but I tried to push those thoughts out of my head.
What do I do when trying to make myself feel better… add cheese.
Yes, I added cheese. I know that some people have this thing about seafood and cheese, but the truth is I am not a seafood purist. I am really more like a cheese purist. In my mind cheese can only make things better. Not to mention, it really helps with the whole overly fishy thing. Yeah, cheese totally takes care of that.
You can of course leave the cheese out if you wish, but if I where you, I really wouldn’t.
There is also some crispy prosciutto going on in this too.
For some reason I forgot about prosciutto all winter, spring and half the summer. This is just crazy because prosciutto, both uncooked and crispy, is delicious.
I thought about adding bacon, and if you don’t have prosciutto or just like bacon better, feel free to use that, but the prosciutto works so well. I feared that bacon would over-power the delicate flavors, so prosciutto seemed like a good fit. I love the salty crunch it adds to this pasta and it pairs really nicely with the basil.
Oh and umm, these clams?? Well, they are drunken clams. That’s the very best kind, right?
My cousin Abby advised me to use a little… ok a lot, of wine. I had to remind her that I can’t actually go and buy wine because I am not yet twenty-one. That’s when my cousin Maggie stepped in and advised me to use my Mimi’s leftover bottle from when she was here visiting in June. Yep, those cousins of mine are smart.
Worked perfectly, and Mimi would be so happy to know her booze didn’t go to waste!
Fresh Clam Pasta with Creamy White Basil Sauce + Crispy Prosciutto.
- 3 ounces fresh prosciutto torn
- olive oil
- 8 cloves garlic peeled + smashed
- 2-4 dozen fresh clams rinsed well, I used 2 dozen
- 1 cup white wine
- 1/2 cup water
- pinches a few of crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 pound angel hair pasta or your favorite long cut pasta
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese + more if desired (optional but not really)
- 4 ounces fontina cheese finely chopped (optional, but again, not really)
- 1/4 cup fresh basil chopped + more for serving
- 2 tablespoons fresh parsley chopped
- 2 tablespoons fresh oregano chopped
- 1/3-1/2 cup heavy cream or whole milk
Place a large saute pan over medium heat. Add a drizzle of olive oil and once hot add the prosciutto. Let the prosciutto get nice and crispy, about 2-3 minutes per side. Remove and drain on paper towels.
To the same skillet add in a drizzle more of olive oil. Toss in 4 cloves of garlic and cook over medium heat until fragrant and golden brown. Remove the garlic from the skillet (leaving the oil) and discard. The garlic will infuse the oil with flavor. To the same skillet add 2/3 of your clams, the white wine, water and a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes. Cover the skillet and let the mixture simmer for about 10-12 minutes or until the clams open. Remove the clams from the pan, let cool and set aside. Once the clams cool, remove the clam meat from their shells. Meanwhile bring the remaining liquid to a boil and let it reduce by about half. Once reduced, pour the liquid through a fine mesh strainer and into a bowl. Reserve the clam liquid for later.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
Back in the same skillet add another drizzle of oil. Add those remaining 4 cloves of garlic and saute until fragrant and golden brown. Again, remove the garlic from the skillet and discard. Add the remaining clams and the reserved clam cooking liquid. Cover and cook ten minutes or until the clams open.
Meanwhile drop your pasta and cook until al dente. Drain.
Once the clams in the skillet have opened and are cooked, remove them from the skillet. Reserve the clams for serving.
Now add the shelled clams (so just the meat, no shells) back to the clam liquid. Now add in the butter. Allow to cook 2-3 minutes and then toss in the pasta, heavy cream, parmesan cheese (if using) and fontina cheese (if using). Toss well until the pasta is coated in cream sauce and the cheese has melted into the sauce.
Remove from the heat, add the basil, parsley, oregano and some fresh pepper. Toss well. Garnish the pasta with the cooked clams in their shells (first batch). Serve right away with fresh pepper and basil. Enjoy!
Hope your Monday ends up being as happy as a clam!