Although we love our grilled veggies, some just don’t quite make grilling easy. They drop through the grates, fall apart before they are nicely charred, or char so quickly that they burn before they are done. I had a lovely bunch of sweet tomatoes that I hoodwinked on the grill. Put them in a little cast iron skillet, added some extra virgin olive oil and salt and pepper, and placed the pan directly on the hot grill. In no time, they absorbed the flavor of the grill and yet they kept their shape and made a perfect side dish to some grilled ribs.
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On our annual trip out on the Cape, we have fish or shellfish every day. All of the seafood is so pristine that I usually serve it raw or just simply cooked – why spoil something so delicious in its own right with sauces and such? The only exception is when I do something with pasta. One of our favorite pasta dishes is linguine with clams for which I don’t really have a tried and true recipe – after all, I’m not an Italian grandma! For our clam night this year, I incorporated some very sweet little yellow cherry tomatoes that we had picked up from a local farm along with a charming bouquet of nasturiums that the farmer’s dear little daughter had picked, tied with ribbon, and sold for ice cream money. The end result was absolutely delicioso. Here’s what I did – there is no real measurement – just guage how much broth you want with the amount of clams and pasta you are going to be serving.
While you are cooking the clams, cook the linguine to al dente according to package directions. For the clams, put a nice layer of olive oil in the pot. Add a good measure of chopped garlic – I use about 8 cloves (you never can be sure about those vampires lurking around) – then when the garlic is smelling up the oil, add a cup of white wine and then let it bubble for a few minutes to allow the winey flavor to mellow. Then, add a bottle of clam juice, a cup of chicken stock, and a cup or so of fresh chopped clams. Let it cook for a couple of minutes, or until very hot. Taste and season with pepper and, if needed, salt. Add your clams, cover, and cook until all of the clams pop open. If, like me, you have some sweet cherry tomatoes, add them along with the clams.
When all of the clams have opened, stir in some chopped parsley. Drain the pasta well and toss it with a touch of extra virgin olive oil. Transfer it to a large platter with sides (so the broth doesn’t run off). Pour the clams and broth over the pasta. And, the crowning glory, julienne the nasturium flowers and leaves and sprinkle them over the clams. You can’t believe what a wondrous marriage of flavors come together with the sweet clams, winey broth, and spicy nasturiums.
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