This is a non-traditional version of white clam sauce that features freshly caught clams from Long Island Sound (courtesy of Blue Moon Fish) and heirloom tomatoes. A little Beurre d’Isigny is whisked in towards the end, but you can skip that step if you prefer. It will taste just as delicious without.
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2 dozen littleneck clams
1 clove garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
1 tablespoon garlic chives, finely minced
1/3 cup white wine
1 large shallot, thinly sliced
3 medium heirloom tomatoes, diced
1 tablespoon oregano, chopped
salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 tablespoon unsalted Beurre d’Isigny (regular unsalted butter is fine) — optional
Wash clams well, scrubbing if necessary to remove external grit. Place clams in a heavy-bottomed pot. Add garlic and garlic chives. Pour in white wine. Steam, shaking pot occasionally, until most of the clams are open, 7 to 10 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to remove clams to a broad bowl; reserve cooking liquid. When clams are cool enough to handle, shuck them over the bowl, catching every drop of their liquid; discard shells. Discard any clams that do not open. Chop the clams finely, then set aside.
Reserve 1/3 of the heirloom tomatoes and set aside. Prepare pasta according to package directions. Drain pasta when done, reserving 1/4 cup cooking water.
Warm olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add shallots. Sauté until they become translucent, about 1 minute; then add 2/3 of the heirloom tomatoes to the pan, along with a pinch of salt and pepper and oregano. Let tomatoes cook for roughly 1-2 minutes, stirring frequently. Tomatoes should still retain their shape — if they begin to break down, you’ve let them go for too long.
Add clams and reserved clam juices to the pan. Cook until clams are heated through. Taste for salt and pepper. Whisk in 1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter, cut into bits. Let sauce reduce slightly, about 1 minute, whisking frequently. Sauce should be slightly thickened, enough to coat the back of a spoon.
Add pasta to the skillet. Toss. Stir in remaining heirloom tomatoes, then serve at once.
Time: 45 minutes, including prep.