You know what they say about eating with your eyes first. Well I did and then I couldn't.
The Big Guy came home yesterday morning with his limit of soft shell steamer clams, also known as mud clams. He said they're "New England soft shell clams" and my comment was "how can that be?" Apparently they're imports, kinda' like I am. The Big Guy used to call me his Canadian import since I left my homeland to marry him 10 years ago.
Now, about the clams - these little guys look a bit like a miniature gooey duck with a round body and a long neck. He shucked them for me, and cleaned 'em all up while I drank a glass of wine and pretended to watch. I didn't because the look of them gives me the willies.
Needless to say about the time the red sauce of sauteed onion, garlic, fennel seed, Italian herbs and red pepper flakes along with crushed tomatoes and vermouth was ready for the whole clams, I'd had enough wine that the ugly little suckers held absolutely no interest; however, the Big Guy ate the whole darn thing with the exception of approximately a half cup of spaghetti that I tossed with a little butter and some parmesan cheese for myself.
After he'd cleaned his plate, he said something like if you're no longer a clam fan, then in the future while I'm eating soft shell steamer clams you can have green peas instead. Such a deal but it doesn't let me off the hook for cooking the things!
By the way, head on over to last year's post if you're interested to see what was happening when we made this recipe before.
Pasta with Red Clam Sauce
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
1/2 teaspoon fennel seed
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Fresh ground black pepper
1/4 cup white vermouth
1/2 cup clam juice
2 cups crushed tomatoes
1 cup chopped fresh clams or 2 cans clams, drained
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
1 pound pasta, cooked according to package directions
In a large sauté pan, heat oil over medium high heat. Add onion, garlic, Italian seasoning, fennel seed and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring occasionally until vegetables are soft (about 8 minutes). Add vermouth and cook until vermouth is almost entirely evaporated. Add clam juice and crushed tomatoes. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 15 minutes until sauce is very thick. Taste for seasoning and add black pepper. Add clams and chopped basil. Cook for 2-3 minutes, until clams are opaque. If using canned clams simmer only until clams are warmed (about 1 minute). Serve over pasta. Garnish with chopped basil and pass the pepper.