Monday, April 16, 2012

Sunday Dinner: Linguine with Clam Sauce

Three steps often taken before Sunday dinner’s menu is determined:
1)      While I’m at work at school on Saturdays, I usually get a craving/inspiration for my Sunday menu. (This, of course,  could be adjusted depending on who’s joining us—and their dietary restrictions, as well as what's available and what looks good in the market.) I write down a tentative menu plan and shopping list. 
2)      I call my dad (ah yes...still looking for his approval at this “ripe” age!) and get a read on his feedback.
3)      If he’s equally inspired/enthusiastic, it stays, and I start planning for real.
This was exactly how my linguine with clam sauce menu happened. Inspiration this weekend came in part from this gorgeous summer-like weather--which probably should have sparked grilling. (Well, I have to say that I did grill sausage, peppers, and onions, too--but will save that recipe for another day!) I served all with roasted asparagus and chunks of fresh orange sections, and a red-leaf salad topped with sweet sliced strawberries and toasted almonds (I think I'll share both of those on Wednesday). Ah--if you live in or near New Rochelle, visit the Bread Factory for a fabulous experience--as well as a gorgeous assortment of fresh bread. I picked up some prosciutto bread, which was perfect for dipping in the luscuiously-light, cream-kissed,  wine-lemon clam sauce. AND one of my father's favorite shell-shapped pastries from our childhood: sfogliatella. The result? All were happy with all!   
Linguine with Clam Sauce

Serves  6 to 8 

Coarse Salt 
2 pounds Little Neck clams  
1 pound linguine
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup finely chopped red onions
3 cloves of garlic, minced
3 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano 
Coarse salt
1 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup clam juice
1/2 cup heavy cream
juice from 2 lemons (about 1/4 cup)
1/4 cup coarsely chopped parsley, plus additional for garnish
Freshly ground black pepper
Fresh-grated parmesan 

Rinse the clams in cold water (and discard any that are badly cracked or open).  Let them sit in a bowl of cold water for about 20 minutes. Scrub each clam clean under cold running water to remove remaining grit or sand. Rinse and drain again. Repeat the scrubbing process as needed until the clams are clean, and soaking water is free of grit. Drain and keep chilled until ready to cook.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the linguine and cook about 9 minutes, or until cooked al dente. Drain the pasta, but save about 1/2 cup of the liquid (I put my colander over a bowl in the sink, and pour it from there into a measuring cup). Transfer the pasta back into the pot, along with the liquid. Stir, cover, and set aside. 

Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan, over medium heat. Add the garlic and onions and sauté, stirring frequently, until the onions start to soften, about 3 minutes. Stir in the oregano leaves, wine, and clam sauce. After the mixture is heated, add the clams and cover. Cook over medium heat, shaking the pan occasionally, until the clams open, about five minutes. (Discard any clams that don't open!)

Stir in the lemon juice and mix well. Add the cream, stir, and simmer for about a minute before adding to the pasta. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste (you can also let your diners do this bit!)  Mix until well blended. Sprinkle parsley on top, and serve on individual plates. Sprinkle with parmesan and additional parsley if desired. 



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