Using fresh ingredients is the key to a delicious meal. Since I have been on a recent health kick, I find myself wanting to incorporate fresh herbs and spices into everything that I can. There really is a difference between slow roasted, fresh cherry tomatoes sprinkled with sea salt versus soggy canned tomatoes that have sitting on a shelf for who knows how long. They say love is the secret ingredient in most home cooked meals, and when they say love – I think they mean fresh herbs and spices.
During the summer I go into seafood mode, well let’s face it – I am always in seafood mode, but on those hot summer nights when the air is heavy and humid, seafood buried within a pasta dish really does hit the spot.
Being teased lately by this gorgeous southern California weather, I have been itching to throw together a dish like this in hopes that summer will approach faster than I can boil a pot of water. So in my attempts to allure the sun gods I managed to piece together this classic twist. The brininess of the clams in combination with the sweetness of the tomatoes and the pungent aroma of fresh basil creates an all around treat for anyone’s taste buds.
Spaghetti + Clams
with tomatoes and basil
6 ounces of Spaghetti, try and use multi-grain
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 Shallot, minced
1/8 teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes
1 1/2 pounds Manilla Clams
1/3 Cup of Chicken Broth
1 teaspoon Lemon zest, grated
3/4 pound Cherry Tomatoes, halved
1/2 Cup of Basil, fresh and slivered
1 Tablespoon Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
Coarse kosher talk and freshly ground black pepper
Start by bring a large pot of water, salted with kosher salt, to a rapid boil. Drop in the pasta and allow it to boil until the pasta becomes al dente. Once the pasta has cooked, remove the pot from heat and allow it to sit while you piece together the remaining parts of the dish.
Place a large oiled pan over a medium flame. Add the minced shallot and pepper flakes and allow it to sauté until the shallot has become almost translucent. Add the clams, broth and lemon zest to the pan and cover until the clams begin to open; this should take anywhere from four to six minutes.
Once the clams have open, add the halved tomatoes and gently stir until the begin to soften. Here is a tip, pop the unopened clams in the oven on a baking sheet at about 350° for a couple minutes and they will open. I understand that seafood is not cheap so do not throw them in the garbage. Give them a second chance, they will open up.
Drain the pasta and transfer to a serving bowl. Pour the clams and it’s sauce over the pasta. Lightly coat the pasta with a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle the freshly chopped basil. Lastly season with salt and fresh ground pepper to your liking and enjoy right away.