Seafood Pasta Paglia e Fieno

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I’m embarrassed to say that, after so many years of cooking Italian food, I have never experimented with using whole live clams!  I think it was because I felt intimidated by them….and afraid that I wouldn’t be able to tell if they were good or bad.  But I decided to put my fears aside and be brave!  If others could do it, so could I!  And then, the internet is such a good resource for doing anything!  I’m sure I could find out what to do with clams!!    So, I went to my trusty fish market and bought about 9 beautiful large manila clams!  I knew enough to ask the fish monger if they had a lot of sand in them and what to do to clean them.  He informed me that they had already been cleaned, but to just put them in a bowl of cold water and swish them around a bit.  The recipe I was using told me that to insure there was no sand left in them, to bring them to a light boil and allow them to just open.  At that point you can inspect them to make sure there isn’t any sand left in them.  This is also a good time to discard the ones that do not open.  This is definitely the sign that it is not a good clam!  The recipe called for straining this water I just cooked the clams in (I used a coffee filter inside a strainer to do this).  I put the clams and water aside and proceeded with the next step.

The next ingredient to prepare was shrimp or prawns.  I used the prawns from Trader Joe’s in the freezer section.  I thawed them and rinsed them under cold water before drying them thoroughly.  Once dried, I dredged them in a tiny bit of flour and then used some fine bread crumbs to coat them.  The coating should be VERY light!

I placed about a 1/4 to 1/2 cup of good extra virgin olive oil in a pan and sauteed a couple of sliced garlic cloves along with about an 1/4 cup of minced parsley  and some pepper until the garlic was just browned (be careful not to burn it!).  To this, I added the shrimp and browned them on both sides until they were golden.  At this point, I added about 3/4 cup of white wine and let it reduce a bit (about 3-5 minutes).  I then added my clams and about 2 tablespoons of clam juice, cooking this for a couple of minutes.  It’s a bit difficult to mix everything up with the clams in there, so while it was cooking, I spooned some of the liquid into the clams to flavor them.  I tasted and adjusted the seasonings.

While all this was cooking, I cooked about 250 g of egg noodles in a separate pot.  I used a mixture of green spinach noodles and white egg noodles to create the “paglia e fieno” – straw and hay – effect.  This pasta cooks very rapidly – usually about 3 minutes in boiling and salted water.  DO NOT OVERCOOK THE PASTA!!!

When the pasta was ready to mix with the seafood, I removed the clams from the shrimp mixture and put them aside.  I then removed the pasta with a large wire pasta strainer like this one:

I put the pasta into the pan with the shrimp.  Don’t worry if some of the pasta water comes with you – that’s OK.  Once all the pasta was in the pan, I cooked it all together with the shrimp mixture until the pasta was well coated.  This doesn’t take much time – just enough to coat everything.  If the pasta is still a little dry, add some of the pasta water to moisten it.  I then placed the pasta mixture into a serving dish and placed the clams into the dish.  Voila!  A beautiful presentation for a delicious Seafood Pasta Paglia e Fieno!

2 responses »

  1. I’m glad you decided to finally experiment with clams. They are, as I am sure you now realized, not that difficult to work with, and make many seafood dishes much tastier. Also, the pasta dish looks great!

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