Fresh clams, garlic (lots!), extra virgin olive oil, a bit of lemon, dash of spicy red pepper flakes, and freshness from parsley & seasonings, merge together to produce a dish that is wonderful on its own...try piling in large bowls and eating with good Italian or sourdough bread dipped in the delicious broth, or served tossed with pasta. My husband could eat this once a week.
In season, I make this with garlic scapes from the farmer's market. The rest of the year, fat garlic cloves are the way to go. Italian parsley is easy to grow, so I am able to "shop" my garden 8 months of the year. I think the key to this dish is, as always, the best, freshest ingredients possible. This is especially important with the clams. Buy them alive, store properly, and use within (max! ) three days of purchase. I tend to use them on the day I buy.
Clams & Garlic Sauce (w/pasta)
4 dozen littleneck clams
1/2 cup coarse cornmeal
1 teaspoon salt
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
4 garlic scapes (or 4 fat cloves garlic), minced
2 shallots, chopped
1/2 cup white wine
1 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon saffron
1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1/2 cup bottled clam juice
1/2 cup Italian parsley, chopped & divided
1 lb long noodle pasta. I prefer bucatini.
Place the clams in a large bowl and sprinkle the cornmeal and salt over the top. Cover with water. Soak for 45 minutes, drain and rinse. (This process removes any grit and sand in the clams.)
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet. Add the scapes (or garlic), and shallots and saute until soft. Add the drained clams, wine, lemon juice, red pepper flakes, paprika, saffron and black pepper. Bring to a boil, cover, and cook until clams open, stirring occasionally. Remove clams as they open and place in a bowl. Discard any unopened clams.
Meanwhile, prepare pasta according to package directions. Drain and keep warm in a colander.
When all clams have been removed from pan, add clam juice and all but 1 tablespoon of parsley. Keep heat on high and cook garlic sauce for 2-3 minutes or until reduced by half. Taste and add additional salt if needed. Add pasta and clams and stir to combine. Ensure all of the pasta and clams are coated with sauce.
Divide between 4 plates. Garnish with remaining parsley and serve immediately.
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Some other garlic and garlic scape recipes to enjoy: