Spring Little Necks

Spring is a great time to go down to the docks and pick up a couple of dozen clams. The smaller littleneck clams work very well in pasta dishes where they are tossed in and served whole, being steamed in the sauce. This method also works well with mussels. I find the smaller clams to be the sweeter ones

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 2 dozen littleneck clams
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 3 large garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried hot red-pepper flakes
  • 1 (28- to 32-ounce) can whole tomatoes in juice, coarsely chopped, reserving juice
  • 1 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 pound spaghetti

Heat oil in a 12- to 14-inch heavy skillet over medium heat until it shimmers, then cook garlic with red-pepper flakes, stirring, until pale golden, 1 to 2 minutes. Add tomatoes with their juice, sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon salt and briskly simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until thickened, 7 to 10 minutes.

Cook spaghetti in a pasta pot of boiling salted water until al dente.

Meanwhile, add whole clams to sauce and cook, covered, shaking skillet occasionally, until clams open wide, 6 to 10 minutes (discard any clams that remain unopened after 10 minutes). Transfer clams in shells to a large shallow bowl. If sauce is too watery, boil until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes.

Drain spaghetti. Return clams to sauce and add pasta, tossing

Spaghetti with Red Clam Sauce

A Cheep Chicken Cacciatore

A little chicken on sale, with a can of tomatoes on sale, and a good price on peppers… well, something needs to be done about this. Now, stop… don’t tell me they are selling boxes of pasta for sixty seven cents… I think I have an idea here…

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 6 boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • 2 teaspoons salt, plus more to taste
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour, for dredging
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 3/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1 ( 28-ounce) can diced tomatoes with juice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano leaves
  • A small bunch of coarsely chopped fresh basil leaves

Sprinkle the chicken pieces with 1 teaspoon of each salt and pepper. Dredge the chicken pieces in the flour to coat lightly.

In a large heavy saute pan, heat the oil over a medium-high flame. Add the chicken pieces to the pan and saute just until brown, about 5 minutes per side. If all the chicken does not fit in the pan, saute it in 2 batches. Transfer the chicken to a plate and set aside.

Add the bell pepper, onion and garlic to the same pan and saute over medium heat until the onion is tender, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add the wine and deglaze the pan. Simmer this down to reduced it by half, about 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes with their juice, and oregano. Return the chicken pieces to the pan and turn them to coat in the sauce. Bring the sauce to a simmer. Continue simmering over medium-low heat until the chicken is just cooked through, about 20 minutes.

Using tongs, transfer the chicken to a platter. If necessary, boil the sauce until it thickens slightly, about 3 minutes. Spoon off any excess fat from atop the sauce. Spoon the sauce over the chicken, then sprinkle with the basil and serve with a nice side of pasta (my preferred pasta for this is the rotelli because it holds the sauce nicely).

Simple Shrimp Sauce and Pasta

Shrimp and pasta… did I mention that Stop and Shop has a sale on shrimp. Well, here’s a nice quick shrimp and pasta dish that works best when the shrimp are of a medium size rather than those super-jumbo ‘revenge of the shrimp’ size crustaceans they are farming these days.

Here’s what you’ll need:

• 1/4 cup olive oil
• 1 lb peeled and deveined medium shrimp
• 4 large garlic cloves, left unpeeled and forced through a garlic press
• 1/2 teaspoon dried red-pepper flakes
• 1/2 cup Duck Walk white wine
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
• 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
• 3/4 lb linguini
• 1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
• Romano and / or Parmesan cheese for garnish

Bring a 6- to 8-quart pot of water to a boil with a shake or two of sea salt.

Now, heat the oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking. Sauté shrimp, about 2 minutes, and transfer with a slotted spoon to a large bowl. Add the garlic, red pepper flakes, wine, salt, and pepper to oil remaining in skillet and cook over high heat, stirring occasionally, about a minute or so. Then, add the butter to skillet, stirring until melted; this is the sauce to which we will add the shrimp. So, stir in shrimp, combine thoroughly and remove skillet from heat.

While making the shrimp sauce, cook pasta in boiling water until just tender, about 3 minutes. Reserve 1 cup pasta-cooking water, then drain pasta in a colander. Toss pasta well with shrimp mixture and parsley in large bowl, adding some of reserved cooking water if necessary to keep moist. Plate it up and garnish with shaved Romano or Parmesan cheese.

Serve this with the rest of that Duck Walk wine, and enjoy a sunny dinner out on the porch.

Anchovy Pasta Sauce with Olives

Well, getting back on track here with the recipes! Today we’ll be whipping up a little pasta and sauce. The sauce features on of best, healthiest, most under-appreciated, sustainable seafood choices…. Anchovies! With a healthy dose of olives, this sauce is perfect for meatless Friday meals.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  •  4 tbsps olive oil
  • 1 tin of anchovies packed in oil
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 large onion minced
  • 1 can black olives chopped
  • Two dozen green olives sliced
  • 2 tsps capers drained
  • 1 tsp dry basil
  • 2 tsps oregano
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 16 ozs can of crushed tomatoes
  • 6 ozs tomato paste
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup marsala
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

In a medium saucepan combine olive oil and anchovies. Cook them over medium heat, stirring to mash them, about three to five minutes. Add garlic and onion and cook until tender, five minutes or so. Then stir in remaining ingredients and simmer, uncovered, half an hour or so. It will take a while for the flavors to coalesce into a unified sauce.

As the sauce is cooking, start your pasta. I like to use the mezze penne, and take a moment or two to call up some friends and invite them to lunch.

Pop the top of a bottle of local Long Island red wine and serve up some home entertaining.