Seriously, Spaghetti alle Vongole!

This dish was so fun to make and turned out so beautifully, I can’t stop smiling about it. This would be great to serve fora dinner party! Don’t forget the bread!

I seriously cannot believe I made this dish! To me, there is something so beautiful about simple food. Basically this dish is clams in a white sauce with tomatoes over pasta. It doesn’t get more basic. I adore the way seafood looks, especially clams and mussels, and this dish is a wizz-bang-show-stopper! I mean, just look at the colors! I loved every part of making this meal and I certainly plan on doing it again!

We started at the fish market. I am a clam virgin so I relied on the fish monger to explain them to me. Turns out, clams are not cheap, so he suggested we buy just the meat to get more bang for our money. I wanted the real deal, so we bought both. I can’t imagine making this dish without the clams in their shells; it’s half the fun!

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As soon as we got home, I put them in a bowl of cold water, sprinkled in some semolina, and let them sit in the refrigerator until dinner. Supposedly, the semolina makes the clams open up and spit out any sand they might be holding onto. (Black pepper works as well.)

Step one of this dish was to prepare my ingredients. I sliced half of my tomatoes and left the other half whole; chopped my parsley; then I smashed my garlic and prepared my pasta and set it aside. (They say to wait until the last minute to chop the parsley so it is as fresh as possible. I’ll do that next time. I was nervous about making this dish so I wanted everything prepared ahead.)

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When I was ready, I heated my olive oil to medium, and then added in the garlic and red pepper flakes. This cooked until fragrant (oh and it was a beautiful aroma!) about two minutes.

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Then came the tomatoes. (Isn’t this pretty? I loved the colors!) The point here is to blister them in the oil. It takes about five minutes.

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Here is a silly video of the tomatoes blistering:

Next comes the wine! I used a Sauvignon Blanc. They say to only cook with a wine you would drink so I followed the rules to the letter. This was left to come up to a boil. (Took about a minute.)

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The clams go in next! Then the pot gets covered for two minutes in order to steam them. (I swear to you, I’m feeling giddy typing this out. I had some much fun doing this!)

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I was a little bit uncertain about when to add the extra clam meat, so I opted to wait until I could see the clams starting to open. I was really afraid of over-cooking them. No one wants to bite into a rubber clam!

Here they have started to open up, so this is the point where I dropped in the other clam meat.

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This is another silly video that captures my giddiness!

Finally, it’s time to add in the pasta. We used angel hair pasta, which is our favorite. The recipe calls for spaghetti or linguine, but I ignored that part. The important part was not to cook the pasta all the way through because it continues to cook in the sauce. Thankfully, I managed to get it right.

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Lastly, the fresh parsley goes in, the heat goes off and then the cheese goes on.

Voila! How gorgeous is this!!!

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Ingredients:
Kosher salt
12 ounces spaghetti or linguine (we used angel hair pasta)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for finishing
8 cloves garlic, smashed
1/4 teaspoon crushed hot pepper flakes
8 ounces very small cherry tomatoes, roughly crushed with your hands, or regular cherry tomatoes, halved (I sliced half of the tomatoes in half and left the other whole & I didn’t crush them.)
1 cup dry white wine (I used Kendall Jackson Sauvignon Blanc)
48 tiny clams such as cockles or vongole (We used 24 clams & a pound of frozen clam meat, thawed)
1 cup coarsely chopped fresh parsley, plus more for serving
1/2 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus more for serving
3 tablespoons unsalted butter

Directions:
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add a generous amount of salt (salty like the sea!) and the pasta and stir to separate. Cook until a few minutes shy of al dente, then drain.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant and sizzling, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the pepper flakes and tomatoes and cook until the tomatoes are slightly softened, about 5 minutes. Add the wine and bring to a boil for 1 minute. Add the clams and cover for 2 to 3 minutes. Uncover and cook, stirring, until the clams open. Discard unopened clams.

Add the pasta to the skillet along with the parsley, cheese and butter. Cook, tossing and stirring and drizzling with olive oil, until the pasta is cooked through and the sauce is silky and thickened. Serve drizzled with oil and sprinkled with cheese and parsley.

PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT: If you don’t serve this with a loaf of crusty bread, you will seriously regret it!

How do I know this? We forgot and seriously regretted it! The sauce is divine and crusty bread would have been perfect for sopping it up!

The Easiest Shrimp/Seafood Scampi Ever!

If ever I want to make my husband flip out with excitement, I announce that I’m making this dish. It’s his favorite and I love to make him happy! Here is how easy it is!

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Classic shrimp scampi doesn’t involve marinating the shrimp, nor does it involve tomatoes or basil, but I’m not making classic shrimp scampi here. This is a little recipe I made up in order to make life a little more simple and believe me, there is nothing more simple than this dish!

I usually start with a pound (or more) of Red Rock shrimp (because we like it best). Red Rock shrimp are brighter in color and have a consistency closer to lobster. We buy this at Trader Joe’s, but if you don’t have a Trader Joe’s in your area and you can’t find it, by all means just use regular shrimp (peeled and de-veined, of course.)

To a one gallon zip lock bag, I add the shrimp, plus a half cup of olive oil, about about six garlic cloves, minced, fresh cracked pepper and just a pinch of salt. Smoosh it around in the bag so all of the shrimp it coated and then set aside for at least a half hour. I leave it right on the kitchen counter. (Shhhh, it’s fine. I promise. You won’t die.)

Next the pasta pot gets filled with water and salt and brought up to a rolling boil. We like to use angel hair pasta for this recipe because it cooks very quickly (about ten minutes), but you can use whatever pasta you love.  Once I’ve dropped the pasta, I prepare a cast iron skillet with two tablespoons of real butter (never use anything but 100% full fat, real butter!) melting over medium high heat.

When the butter has melted, I pour the contents of the shrimp bag, (olive oil and all), right into the skillet. Using a spatula, I quickly distribute the shrimp so they are in a single layer. Shrimp cook very quickly -literally just a couple of minutes- so it’s important to watch them closely and turn them over as soon as they are becoming pink and opaque.

If this were a regular shrimp scampi recipe, wine would be added early  into this mix, but I am not a fan of cooking with wine, so I ignore this step. Instead I like to pop in some pretty tomatoes right after the shrimp goes in and then fresh basil towards the end. Make sure to continue stirring frequently so the shrimp are not over-cooked.

I said this was seafood scampi, correct? This is because my dear husband, Charlie, likes to sneak off to Trader Joe’s and buy things I would never even consider looking at. For instance; this stuff:

Frozen-Seafood-Mix

I would never have even looked at this, let alone purchased it, but it made him happy, so he did. I obliged him by thawing it out and adding it right into the skillet at the same time I put in the shrimp. (No marinade for the seafood.)

See how colorful these shrimp are? In this photo, they are about 95% cooked. I love how they retain their pretty color. Regular shrimp do turn pink but not like this!

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Finally, I take the skillet off the heat and give the dish a stir as I add in the fresh basil. You might notice that there is no photo of this step. This is because I didn’t have a lot of the fresh basil this time. Oh and by the way, your tomatoes might not smile like mine. I’m magic. You’re probably not magic. ♥

Once the pasta is finished cooking, it gets tossed in with the garlic sauce and seafood, then plated and sprinkled with a little fresh Parmesan cheese.

Finito!

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Ingredients:

½ cup of olive oil

½ Teaspoon cracked black pepper

¼ Teaspoon salt

2-3 Tablespoons butter

6 garlic cloves, minced

1-2 lbs. Red Rock Shrimp, thawed (peeled & deveined)

1 pkg. Pana Pesca Seafood Mix (Optional. You can sub in any seafood mix you like or don’t do it at all.)

¼ cup fresh basil (torn)

¼ cup Parmesan (finely grated)

10-12 cherry tomatoes (optional & use however many you prefer)

¼ – ½ lb. angel hair pasta

 

Directions:

To a one gallon zip-lock bag add the shrimp, olive oil, garlic, salt & pepper. Smoosh it around making sure the shrimp is coated. Set aside for at least half an hour. I do not refrigerate the shrimp, but you can if you are afraid.

Prepare pasta according to instructions on the box. (Boil water, add salt, and add pasta…yada yada…)

Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a cast iron skillet set to medium high. When the pan is hot, drop in the contents of the gallon bag. (If you are making seafood scampi-add the additional seafood as well.) Quickly distribute the shrimp so they are in a single layer in the pan. Add the tomatoes. Continue stirring keeping careful watch on the shrimp. They are finished when they are pink and opaque. The whole process takes about 2-3 minutes on each side, but it can happen faster, so watch carefully.

Once the shrimp are just about cooked, I like to add one more tablespoon of butter and the basil, then stir once more and remove from the heat. Add a final pinch of freshly cracked pepper.

Drain the pasta, mix it in with the scampi.

Garnish with grated Parmesan and a little more pretty basil!

Enjoy!