Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Keeping the Troops at Bay

There are some classics that I would eat every day if I felt my body would not revolt up against me. One of those things is linguine in clam sauce. It’s a simple dish, and one that I ate obsessively as a child in Italian joints across Brooklyn. It’s the type of thing I would love to eat at least two, three, no - four times a month, had I no fear that this sort of frequency would result with unrest within.

I can see it now: my stomach amassing a group of rebel organs that would march towards a victorious coup d’├ętat in my body, their strident and hard-willed desire for change within my inner workings unfettered by the gallons of oil I have sent into my system in a futile effort to stymie their progress.

Because I have the utmost respect for my body, or at least am realistic in my understanding of its power over my day-to-day functions, I do not indulge in such a reckless manner. But – thank goodness, that doesn’t mean that I am to be without my linguine and clam sauce. Hell, that doesn’t even mean that I can’t add salami to my dish.

I’m a rebel, though a reasonable one, which some may very well argue is not a rebel at all. So be it. I’m going to eat my linguine and clam sauce, but I’m going to do it so as not to upset the potential troops within. I’m not going to deny myself these pleasures, but I see no problem with appeasing my body by making them a little bit healthier. My mind can also relax knowing that the chance of rebellion south of my neck has been dutifully minimized.

Linguine with Clams and Salami
From Melissa Rubel, Food & Wine, February 2008

This is an incredibly simple dish and it takes almost no time at all to put together. The chopping is minimal, and the most labor-intensive task is scrubbing the clams. The sauce is put together in less time than it takes the pasta to cook, so this is really a fabulous weeknight meal. Serve with some crusty bread to sop up the goodness of the sauce. We used a multigrain baguette from Red Hen; while a simple crusty french baguette might have been the more fitting choice, the multigrain did the trick, and kept my organs at bay.

I characteristically misplaced my Genoa before I started cooking and used a hard salami instead; this worked out pretty well, but I’m convinced not nearly as well as the Genoa would have, since its texture was a bit too substantial for the rest of the dish, which seemed almost delicate in comparison.

12 ounces linguine (spaghetti, thin fettuccine; really any long pasta with substantial bite will work, but linguine is traditional)
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 medium-sized garlic cloves or 2 large, thinly sliced
2 ½ dozen littleneck clams, cleaned and scrubbed
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup bottled clam broth
3 ounces sliced Genoa salami, cut into 1/2-inch strips
1/2 cup coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook to al dente. Drain.

While the pasta is cooking in a large, deep skillet, heat the olive oil. Add the garlic and cook over moderate heat until lightly golden, about 3 minutes. Add the crushed red pepper, clams and wine and bring to a boil. Add the clam broth, cover and cook over moderate heat until the clams open, about 5 minutes. (Note: I used a larger stockpot, which worked just fine. If you are to do the same just be aware that the cooking time is going to increase; don’t get scared that the clams are no good, it took a good 5-8 minutes for all of my clams to open. If your pot is really large it might take up to ten for them all to open).

Add the linguine, salami and parsley to the clam sauce and toss over low heat until combined. Transfer the linguine to shallow bowls and serve immediately.

Serves 4

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Haha... I love that you turned the act of eating linguine and clams into a gastrointestinal civil war. I hope the esophagus won... love the esophagus.