A few weeks ago I was crewing on a boat 120 miles offshore when we all got a pang of hunger for some serious comfort food. We’d been out at sea for about four days and thanks to Hurricane Alberto and some rough seas, we’d been able to eat nothing for the first two days. As the seas started to settle, and I finally managed to go below deck for provisions, I was struck by a moment of culinary creativity. Obviously our galley kitchen is no Iron Chef America stage so the ingredients were limited to function foods to get us through the week. That being said, we always had an amazing assortment of canned goods and more loaves of bread than we could possibly consume. It was on this night that my inspiration for this dish happened. I managed to rummage up some pasta, olive oil, garlic powder, a tin of clams and some day-old bread. With these few simple ingredients we tucked in to a meal that was not only a satisfying carb fest, but also a delicious combination of textures and garlickiness. To what did we owe this texture? Breadcrumbs! Breadcrumbs are a fantastic and under-appreciated addition to pastas that we highly recommend! So, to get you started, here is our favourite simple clam pasta recipe!
Clam and Garlic Breadcrumbs Pasta
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound linguini
2 shallots, sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup cherry tomatoes
1 tin or 2 pounds pasta clams
pinch crushed red chili flakes
salt and pepper
1/2 cup unseasoned Italian breadcrumbs
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Once boiling, add one tablespoon salt and cook until al dente, about eight minutes.
2. Meanwhile, in a small skillet, add one tablespoon of the extra-virgin olive oil and warm over medium heat. Once hot, add half the garlic and fry until just golden, about one minute. Add the breadcrumbs and toast until golden, about two minutes. Transfer breadcrumbs to a plate and set aside.
3. Heat remaining olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the shallots, remaining garlic and chili flakes, and stir for one minute. Add the cherry tomatoes and cook for five minutes until they begin to burst.
4. Add the clams and one cup of the starchy pasta water. Cover the skillet and cook until the clams open, about five minutes.
5. Drain the pasta and stir into the clams. Season with salt and pepper.
6. Immediately before serving, sprinkle with fresh parsley and toasted breadcrumbs.
Amanda Garbutt is the host of The Hot Plate, a free online cooking show dedicated to inspiring culinary confidence in new cooks. The Hot Plate also offers regular cooking tips and advice, how-tos, and information on seasonal ingredients.
by Amanda Garbutt