Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Clams with Saffron, Tomato, and Garlic

This dinner is a perfect summer meal because it is fast and doesn’t require generating a lot of heat in the kitchen (no oven). Once everything is chopped and prepared, the clams can be ready in only ten minutes. If you prefer mussels they could easily be substituted. I served the clams over angel hair pasta but they would also be good on their own with some crusty pieces of bread for dipping.  If you are not a fan of clams or mussels, you could also throw in some shrimp although I recommend keeping the shells on them to flavor the broth.  I know the people who don't like shellfish might be grossed out by shrimp in shells with little legs (I'm thinking of a particular roommate of mine with exacting requirements for the physical form her food takes).  I think the key to delicious shellfish is to avoid overcooking.  Keep a close eye on the clams and remove them from heat as soon as they are done opening. 

The saffron is a bit pricey but it adds an amazing flavor so I think it is worth the splurge. I compensated by buying very cheap wine from Trader Joes to cook with.  I am also contemplating cooking Paella in the next few weeks so I will use the saffron again! 

Clams with Saffron, Tomato, and Garlic
Adapted from Food and Wine

Pinch of saffron
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
¼ cup olive oil
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 lbs clams, rinsed
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
3 shallots, thinly sliced
3 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 cup dry white wine, like pinot grigio
½ cup flat leaf parsley leaves, chopped
Angel hair pasta

In a small saucepan, steep the saffron in the vinegar over low heat for 1 minute. Let cool, then whisk in the olive and vegetable oils and the pepper.

In a large skillet or saucepan, combine the vinaigrette with the clams, tomatoes, shallots, garlic and wine.  Cook until shallots have softened, about 5 minutes.  Add the clams, cover and cook over high heat for 5 minutesor until all of the clams have opened.  Discard any clams that do not open. Pour the clams over the pasta. Garnish with the parsley and serve.

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