It’s summer and the eldest will be headed back to college soon, with a new challenge: apartment living. Both of these are pushing me towards a simple food portfolio. For a recent Sunday dinner I elected to make an antipasto salad and linguine with clam sauce.
An antipasto salad is really simple and incredibly delicious, it can be served as a salad course or on its own. I found this recipe and modified it just a touch to make it perfect, the original recipe was a bit onion and pepper heavy, this allows you to taste all of the independent flavors. The “lettuce” of the salad is the basil, so the trick is to be gentle with the leaves when washing them so as not to bruise them.
Italian, Salads, Tested and Approved!
Servings: 4 servings Source: bonappetit.com
1 garlic clove, minced
⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil
¼ cup red wine vinegar
½ tsp. crushed dried oregano
Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
1-2 Cubanelle or Shepherd peppers, thinly sliced into rounds
½ small red onion, thinly sliced, rinsed
1 can (14 oz.) artichoke hearts, drained, patted dry, halved
8 oz. ball fresh mozzarella, torn into pieces
¼-⅓ salami, preferably fennel, thinly sliced
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
2 cups basil leaves
Mix garlic, oil, vinegar, oregano, and red pepper flakes in a large bowl. Add sweet peppers, onion, artichokes, mozzarella, and salami and toss to coat; season with salt and black pepper. Let sit, tossing occasionally, at least 15 minutes.
Zest half of lemon over salad and add basil; toss to combine. Season with more salt and black pepper if needed.
Do Ahead: Salad (without lemon zest and basil) can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.
Linguine with Clam Sauce is a little more complicated, but there are some tricks to make it simpler. The biggest time saver is frozen clam meat: no scrubbing and they are typically precooked. With the eldest’s fish allergy, I skip the anchovies, but enjoy them if you can. With any pasta dish, the most important ingredient is the pasta, select a good pasta, Italian if available, and for a simple sauce like a clam, a rustic (rough) pasta that the sauce will stick to is best.
Linguine and Clams
Entrées, Italian, Pastas, Shellfish, Tested and Approved!
Servings: 4 servings Source: bonappetit.com
1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus more
10 cups water
12 garlic cloves, divided
4 ounces sourdough or country-style bread, crusts removed, cut into ½-inch pieces
2 tablespoons plus ¼ cup olive oil, plus more for serving
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
2 oil-packed anchovy fillets (optional)
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, plus more for serving
⅓ cup dry white wine
2 pounds littleneck clams (about 24) or cockles (about 32), scrubbed*
12 ounces linguine or spaghetti
½ cup finely chopped parsley
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Bring salt and water to a boil in a large pot.
Meanwhile, pulse 3 garlic cloves in a food processor until chopped. Add bread and pulse several times until fine crumbs form.
Heat 2 Tbsp. oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high. Add breadcrumb mixture and cook, stirring often, until crumbs are golden and crisp, 5-7 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl. Add lemon zest, season with salt, and toss to combine; set aside.
Wipe out Dutch oven. Using a mandoline if you have one (if not, use a really sharp knife), very thinly slice remaining 9 garlic cloves. Heat ¼ cup oil in Dutch oven over medium. Cook garlic, stirring often, until golden around the edges, about 3 minutes. Add anchovies, if using, and ½ tsp. red pepper flakes and cook, stirring, until garlic is golden all over and anchovies are dissolved. Quickly stir in wine and simmer until only a couple of tablespoons of liquid are left in pot.
Add clams and toss to combine. (If using clam meat, add and proceed to next step.) Cover and cook until clams are open, 5-7 minutes (about 4 minutes for cockles). Uncover pot and transfer clams to a medium bowl, leaving liquid in pot. If any clams are still closed, cover pot again and cook a few minutes longer, then transfer to bowl with others (discard any that have not opened at this point). Tent clams with foil.
Cook pasta in boiling water 5 minutes. Using a ladle or heatproof measuring cup, scoop out about 2 cups pasta cooking liquid. Using tongs, transfer pasta to pot with clam liquid. Add 1 cup pasta cooking liquid and bring to a boil. Cook, tossing constantly and adding more pasta cooking liquid a splash at a time if needed, until pasta is al dente and sauce is glossy and thick enough to cling to noodles, about 5 minutes.
Remove from heat. Add parsley and butter and toss until butter is melted. Sprinkle about one-third of breadcrumbs over pasta and toss to combine (you can add more or less depending on how much liquid is in bottom of pot-you want them to absorb some of the sauce but not make it dry). Give pasta a taste; you probably won’t need additional salt, but you can add some if you’d like. Divide pasta among shallow bowls and top with reserved clams, more breadcrumbs, red pepper flakes, and a drizzle of oil.
*Fresh clams can be replaced with frozen meat: ¼ lb. frozen meat/ 1 lb. fresh clams