Fancy Pasta with Artichokes and Clams
I called my mother-in-law to ask her about vongole and what I needed to do to open them to use in a pasta. I had a pretty good idea of how to do it, but I know that she’s tickled by these phone calls and enjoys passing on her culinary knowledge to me. She reminded me to not put any tomatoes in my spaghetti e vongole because of how my husband and sister-in-law had moaned on Christmas Eve to this strange addition to their beloved Christmas pasta. We had rolled our eyes together and moaned with pleasure at how good it was and how ridiculous her children were being.
To her shock I told her I was doing something completely different and that I was prepared to suffer the consequences of her son’s disappointment. Luckily her son gives me a lot more freedom in the kitchen than he gives his mother. He believes that since she comes from such a traditional school of cooking that her experiments go completely wrong. I believe that no one has given her the support to experiment because they all just want the same old same old from her, not that there is anything boring about the Neapolitan same old same old. I, on the other hand, come from a melting pot of cooking schools and experiment all of the time, so luckily he is open to whatever I place in front of him, and nine times out of ten, he loves it.
A good friend of ours gave us a gorgeous gift basket filled with fancy pasta, jams, honey, olive oil and liquor. I wanted to do something special for this fancy pasta with squid ink and lemon scents, but something subtle enough to not over power the flavor of the pasta. Fish was an absolute, sausage and squid ink are not a marriage made in heaven. I showed up at the fish market letting the availability of of the market decide my pasta for me and the clams spat at me calling my name. Artichokes are in season right now and you can see their long stalks bursting out of every vegetable truck in town, the combination seemed perfect to me.
Fancy Pasta with Artichokes and Clams
- 200 grams clams in shells
- 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and left whole
- 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 6 medium artichokes, cleaned
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 1/2 pound fancy pasta, farfalle would also work well
- a few sprigs of parsley, stems removed and chopped
Prepare a bowl with cold water and lemon juice.
Clean the artichokes by eliminating their outer leaves; you can do this by bending them and snapping them off. Do this until you get to the leaves that are lighter in color. Cut off the tip of the central cone, to eliminate the tougher green end of the leaves. Cut the heart in half and scoop out the inside chokes with a knife or a small spoon. Cut the heart of the artichoke into thin slices and immerse in the lemon water. You can do this a few hours ahead of time.
When you are ready to make the pasta, heat oil in a wide saucepan over medium-high heat and add one clove of garlic. When garlic starts to sizzle add the clams and close tightly with the lid of the pan. Toss them in the olive oil and garlic for a few minutes until they have all opened. Once they have opened, turn off the heat and remove the clams from their shells into a separate bowl, being careful not to burn your little fingers. Filter the broth that the clams created into a separate bowl.
Fill a large pot with water for the pasta. Bring to a boil over high heat.
Heat oil in a deep skillet or a wide saucepan over medium heat and add the remaining clove of garlic. When the garlic starts to sizzle, add artichoke slices, stir to absorb the oil and then add the white wine and the filtered clam broth. Cover and simmer for about 15 minutes. If it starts to dry out, add a cup of water to the pan.
Once the water starts to boil for the pasta add a small handful of salt to the water and bring to a rolling boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente. When the pasta is perfectly al dente, reserve a cup of the pasta water in case the pasta dries out when tossing it with the artichokes and the clams. Turn up the heat under the artichokes and the clams and drain the pasta. Without shaking all of the water out of the colander pour the pasta into the pan and toss it with the sauce. This allows for the pasta to cook a little longer in the sauce and to absorb the flavor. Remove the pan from the flame and toss the parsley in the pasta. Serve immediately.
One Year Ago: La Cantina di Papa Ggiru
Three Years Ago: Brasato