Finally made it back to the city after a nice long weekend in the mountains. The trip to Tennesse was filled with lots of pool time, hanging out at the lake, and cookouts with the family. I got to enjoy Southern classics like potato salad and deviled eggs that I don’t normally get to eat. My dad took me to this fantastic restaurant in Damascus, Virginia where I got to enjoy blue crab cakes and fried green tomatoes. Look for an upcoming post this week about the restaurant. It’s really neat!
Do clams some what intimidate you or maybe not sure how to cook them? Believe it or not, they are so easy and relatively quick to cook if you’re looking for an elegant, no-fuss meal. These clams are little neck clams from our stately neighbor of New Jersey. I purchased these at Whole Foods for 49 cents per clam. Roughly I paid around $5.88 for 12 clams.
The only thing you need to do before cooking the clams is to clean the outer shells. The shells trap sand and dirt so you want to scrub them. To clean them, use a toothbrush and scrub the clam shells under cold running water. Easy as that. I use the same toothbrush every time and throw it in the dishwasher with the silverware to clean it.
Orzo is a small-shaped pasta and pairs perfectly with the clams. It’s a light pasta and won’t weigh you down like other pastas. Orzo soaks up the clam sauce beautifully for a flavorful meal.
I used a shallot, but you can use an onion if that’s what you have on hand. No problem at all.
Placing the lid over the clams, creates steam and allows the clams to open on their own. It’s pretty neat to see if you’re cooking clams for the first time. I remember how giddy I was the first time I made clams for dinner. It only takes 5 to 8 minutes for the clams to open. Just as you think a clam won’t open, let them cook the full 8 minutes. The clams might just surprise you and open. As always, discard any that don’t open because that means they are no good.
After the clams open, use tongs and transfer for them to a bowl so you can add the orzo to the sauce in the pan. You’d be surprised how much flavor clams can add to a sauce. After you toss the orzo in the sauce, add the clams back, and you’re ready for dinner.
Clams with Orzo and Tomatoes
adapted from Giada’s Kitchen
2 cups chicken broth
3/4 cup orzo
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 shallot, chopped
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 cup dry Marsala wine
1/2 cup grape tomatoes
12 little neck clams, scrubbed
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
In a small sauce pan, add the chicken broth and bring to a boil over high heat. Add the orzo and cook for 7 to 9 minutes until tender but still firm to the bite. Drain the orzo in a colander and set aside.
Heat the oil in a large, deep saute pan (or dutch oven) over medium heat. Add the shallots and a pinch of salt and pepper and cook until soft, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, for 30 seconds. Add the Marsala wine and grape tomatoes and cook for 1 minute, using a wooden spoon to scrape the brown bits in the pan. Add the clams to the pan. Cover the pan with a tight-fitting lid and cook until all the clams have opened, about 5 to 8 minutes. Discard any unopened shellfish. Remove the pan from the heat.
Using tongs, remove the clams from the pan and transfer them to a small bowl and set aside. Add the orzo to the saute pan, and stir the orzo with the broth and tomatoes. Transfer the clams back to the saute pan, and place them on top of the orzo and vegetable mixture. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.