|Clamming, about as Long Island as you can get|
I am big fan of Linguine with Clam Sauce as our recipe search feature will confirm. So when I saw this recipe for a variation on the theme in the July 2012 issue of La Cucina Italiana, I had to try it. After all, the Little Neck clam, with which this lovely, light dish is made, is about as local as you can get out here on the East End of Long Island. It’s especially appealing too because, unlike Linguine with Clam sauce, the recipe includes some great fresh vegetables — carrots, leeks and tomatoes – and it’s light on the pasta. In true Italian fashion, La Cucina lists it as a “Primo” or appetizer which is generally the role pasta plays in the Italian menu. I served it as our main course. It is a perfect summer pasta dish especially with those bite-sized morsels of heaven, the littlenecks.
|A Clamming Rake is as essential to digging
Little Necks as the beer which generally accompanies
Clamming on Long Island
For years, families have clammed here, taking their rakes and digging through the fine sand to pluck these tender-sweet fruits of the sea from their beds at low tide. They look for tell-tale ‘bubbles’ in the sand where the objects of their affection live. They zealously guard the locations of their clamming grounds just as they would buried treasure. It’s a fine pastime usually accompanied by a few beers to accompany the hard work of raking through the sand.
|A famous photo of 2 Nuns Clamming
When you get your clams home from the market, fill a large bowl with ice and then put a smaller bowl filled with water on top of the ice and put your fresh clams into the bowl. Store in the refrigerator until you are ready to clean them.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Meanwhile, in a large heavy pot with lid, combine clams, 1 1/2 tablespoons oil and wine.
Cover and cook over high heat, shaking pan occasionally, just until clams open, 7 to 10 minutes. Discard any clams that do not open). Reserving cooking liquid, transfer clams to a bowl, then strain cooking liquid into a bowl through a cheesecloth-lined fine-mesh sieve. Remove clams from shells; discard shells.
Cook pasta in the boiling water until al dente. Reserving 1 1/2 cups pasta cooking liquid, drain pasta and set aside (do not rinse).
In a second large skillet, heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil over medium heat. Add leek, carrot and bell pepper; cook, stirring frequently, 5 minutes. Add clams, clam juice and pasta cooking liquid; gently simmer until carrot is tender, about 5 minutes.