June 12, 2008

Green Garlic and Clams like Each Other

Picked up some green garlic from our CSA last week. A week before, the San Francisco-based chef Daniel Patterson had penned an article in the New York Times in which he recommended several ways to use this immature form of the bulbous garlic (which, like ramps, closely resembles a scallion, only bigger).

Chef Patterson's linguini with clam sauce sounded like an ideal dish to enjoy with a glass of white wine while sitting outside on a spring weekend evening. It was.

Admittedly, clams ain’t cheap, so while this is a “simple” pasta dish, it’s not something you’d have frequently. I have to think, though, that this could be adapted to include shrimp or mushrooms, among other things.

I’ve tried to lay out the recipe in a way that helps with timing, because I hate having to wait too long to finish a dish because something else isn’t quite done yet..

Linguine with Green Garlic Clam Sauce (adapted from Daniel Patterson)

  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons minced green garlic, white and light green parts
  • Crushed red pepper
  • 3-4 pounds of well-cleaned clams
  • ¼ cup white wine
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 lemon, juiced and zested
  • 1 pound linguine
  • Handful of flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Get a large pot of well-salted water boiling.

Put a few very good swirls of olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. After a minute, add the garlic, crushed red pepper, and a big pinch of salt and cook for a minute or two.

Put the pasta in the water.

Add the clams, white wine, and water, and cook over medium-high heat, covered. After about 3-4 minutes, the clams will start opening, in fairly rapid succession. As they open, transfer them to a plate with a slotted spoon.

Remove the clams from their shells and mince (the clams, not the shells! :D).

Remember to check the pasta, because you don’t want it to be fully cooked in the water. You want it to be a little less than al dente, because you’re going to be adding it back to the pan with the clam “sauce” and it’s going to soak up some of it.

Strain the sauce -- which will seem much more like a broth -- from the pan through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl that’s large enough to hold the liquid.

Give the saucepan a good wipe, and add back the clam meat and sauce/broth to the saucepan over medium heat. Add the pasta, parsley, lemon juice (hold a little juice back, though, and add the rest after you’ve combined everything if it seems to need it) and zest, and combine well.

Let it cook together for just a minute, taste and adjust for salt, pepper, acid (aka, the lemon juice), and serve immediately with a small bit of freshly grated parmesan.

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