I owe a world of gratitude to the Italian culinary magazine, La Cucina Italiana….they are improving my Italian, recipe by recipe. My one splurge (ok, maybe not my only splurge) is a subscription to the Italian version of the magazine – each month I patiently wait for the Italian version to arrive, albeit a month behind the English version I also receive. The dark blue plastic shrink-wrap surrounding the magazine almost adds to my guilty pleasure – it makes me feel as if I am receiving some naughty magazine in the mail. (I wonder what my mail lady thinks??) But it never ceases to put a smile on my face whenever I find it among my mail. I have said this before but I could never, ever imagine receiving these magazines on my eReader….the pleasure I derive from leafing through each issue, drooling over the photos, dog-earing the pages as I go, is priceless. My Italian version is also full of highlights, circles and notes as I try to work through all the incredibly strange Italian cooking verbs. Fun verbs like ‘aggiungete’ (add); ‘spegnete’ (turn off); ‘irrorate’ (spray); ‘friggetele’ (fry). I giggle as I try to pronounce them. What a completely different vocabulary than the conversational Italian I have learned….what fun!
For dinner last eve, I needed something quick and spotted this version of spaghettini with clams and cherry tomatoes in their English version July issue. It was simple, light and yummy, just what was needed after a summer’s day of activity outdoors. I adapted the recipe a bit – I kept the shells on the clams as I like the added depth they bring and I streamlined the directions to only use 2 pots versus 3, to keep the post-dinner dish washing to a minimum. Serve with some nice crusty bread to soak up the yummy clam juice.
And don’t forget to ‘aggiustate di sale!’ (Adjust your salt!)
Spaghettini with Clams and Cherry Tomatoes
(Vongole con Spaghettini e Pomodorini)
Adapted from La Cucina Italiana; July 2013 issue – original recipe here
- 1 small leek, thinly sliced into rounds
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 small carrot, peeled and thinly sliced into rounds
- 1/3 cup finely chopped green bell pepper
- 1/4 cup dry white wine
- 2 1/4 pounds Manila or small littleneck clams, scrubbed and soaked to remove sediment
- 1/2 pound cherry tomatoes, cut in half
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped flat-leaf parsley plus more for garnish
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 pound spaghettini or spaghetti
Wash leek well in a bowl of cold water, agitating it, then lift out and pat dry. Set aside.
In a heavy pot with a lid, heat 2 tablespoons oil over medium heat. Add leek, carrot and bell pepper; cook, stirring frequently, 5 minutes. Add the wine. Add in the clams. Cover and cook over medium high heat, shaking the pan occasionally, just until clams open, 5 to 7 minutes (littlenecks may take longer, depending on size; discard any clams that do not open). As the clams open, remove clams to a dish so as not to overcook. Cover with foil to keep warm.
Once all the clams are open and removed from the pot, add tomatoes and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Cook 30 seconds, then add the parsley; toss just to combine.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta in the boiling water until al dente. Reserving 1 1/2 cups pasta cooking liquid, drain pasta (do not rinse).
Add cooked pasta to the sauce pot, stir to combine. Add the clams back in and any accumulated clam juice. Add enough pasta cooking water to moisten the pasta and make a silky sauce; gently simmer for a few minutes.
Ladle the pasta and clams into bowls; garnish with parsley. Serve immediately.