Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Spicy Clam Salad

Every time I talk about the book On Top of Spaghetti I point out that I don’t play favorites with my cookbooks, but it’s one that is particularly special. It’s all pasta on every page, and everything I’ve made from it has been fantastic. Today, I won’t be talking about that book but instead about its authors and their first book. For years, I’ve been meaning to get a copy of Cucina Simpatica by Johanne Killeen and George Germon because of how much I enjoy On Top of Spaghetti. For that matter, their restaurant, Al Forno, is the reason Providence, Rhode Island has been on my list of places I want to visit. I still haven’t made it to Rhode Island, but I finally ordered Cucina Simpatica which was originally published in 1991. This one is more than pasta. It covers all of the Italian-based food they serve at Al Forno from starters and salads to pizzas, pasta, braises, and vegetables. And, now I have a new reason to want to visit their restaurant. I learned that most of their desserts are made to order including the ice cream that’s churned fresh for each customer. I checked the website, and their menu states that they continue to do this. Obviously, they have a knack for hospitality and an understanding of how to make really good food. As I was reading this book and choosing what to make from it first, our CSA box arrived. We received big ears of corn, pretty ripe tomatoes, and cucumbers. That helped me decide to try this Spicy Clam Salad. 

Making the salad requires pre-prepping a couple of items, but it all comes together simply for serving. First, oven-cured tomatoes were made. In the book, they suggest slow-roasting cored, whole tomatoes at 200 degrees F with basil or parsley and olive oil for eight to twelve hours. I took a quicker route by quartering the tomatoes, increasing the temperature, and giving them two hours in the oven. The flavor was concentrated and delicious. Meanwhile, hot pepper-infused olive oil was made by combining olive oil, paprika, crushed red pepper flakes, and garlic in a saucepan and simmering for 10 minutes. The pan was removed from the heat and left to infuse for 30 minutes before being strained. Next, the corn was cut from the cobs and cooked, and croutons were made with melted butter and garlic. The last thing to cook was the clams. They were steamed with white wine and water, and I added more crushed red pepper flakes. To complete the salad, the corn, croutons, chopped cucumbers, some sliced green onion, arugula, and parsley leaves were tossed with red-wine vinegar and the spicy olive oil. That was arranged on a platter, and the salad was topped with oven-cured tomatoes and the steamed clams. 

Fresh corn and clams always go nicely together, and all the other ingredients were like summer’s greatest hits. I always like clams, but this instantly became one of my favorite uses of them. Once again, Johanne Killeen and George Germon did not disappoint. I’m delighted to have another book of theirs to cook from, and I’d love to see a new one from them too. 

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13 comments:

  1. Very tempting! I've never had clams...

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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  2. I purchased both of their cookbooks upon your recommendation and just love them. Thanks again for a great recipe.

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  3. clams continue to make me uncomfortable, but this is still tempting because i like everything else about it!

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  4. Such a beautiful salad Lisa, every once in a while my husband will grill clams and they are lovely. Thanks for another recipe......

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  5. The salad is very pretty and had so many colours. I don't have those cookbooks but now I feel I need to add them to my collection xx

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  6. Lisa, this salad just made my mouth water! It looks glorious! I love clams! I've never prepared ones at home though! Awesome!

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  7. Mmm.. clams! And looks so elegant!

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  8. Great article with excellent idea! I appreciate your post. Thanks so much and let keep on sharing your stuffs keep it up.

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  9. Simply gorgeous, Lisa! Now you're making ME want to visit Rhode Island :)

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  10. Love clams Lisa and this look delicious :)

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  11. That's my kind of salad, Lisa. Love all those flavors and what a fabulous presentation! So much flavor in roasted tomatoes.....never used to roast tomatoes, but read an Ina Garten recipe ages ago and she raved about it. And speaking of Ina and Al Forno....she made a pasta recipe from there on her show which I posted a while back. Best pasta recipe I've ever tasted! With mushrooms and radicchio. Simple, but chock full of delicious!

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  12. It looks incredible! Seriously drool worthy.

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