With the massive amount of home cooking I’ve been doing, I really haven’t been out to each much in the last little bit. Even when we have gone out, it’s been for sushi or izakaya food. We hardly ever go out for Italian food here in Vancouver, just because the majority of Italian restaurants are of the all-you-can-eat giant plate variety.
However, there are two Italian restaurants that I do like in Vancouver and a couple of weeks ago Mike and I went to one to celebrate our anniversary. La Buca is a cute, quaint, neighbourhood trattoria that serves family-style Italian food. The pasta isn’t drenched in sauce and the portions are perfectly sized, unlike most other Vancouver restaurants.
We ordered the tasting menu and while everything was extremely delicious (especially the tortellini), I couldn’t help but notice what our neighbours were chowing down on. I’m really bad when I eat at restaurants; I can’t help but check out what everyone else is eating and then immediately covet it.
My wandering eyes were drawn to the giant plate of linguine with clams placed in front of the girl next to us. The platter was piled high with twists and turns of slippery noodles and happy open clams. When the dish was put down, I could smell the sea and garlic. I almost wanted to order my own plate then and there, but I restrained myself.
Instead, I promised myself the next time I made pasta, I’d make a big dish of linguine and clams. Last night I made good on my promise and cooked up a big mess of spaghetti and savory clams.
Mike happens to be a big fan of clam sauce and linguine with clams was actually one of the first meals he ever made me. The recipe he used was Mario Batali’s. The sauce is simply white wine, San Marzano tomatoes, garlic, parsley, red pepper flakes and clams.
The result is pleasantly spicy, light and simple. The clams turned out perfectly cooked and if there was one thing that I’d change it would be the amount of tomato juice. I thought it was a touch too saucy, but then again, I didn’t really complain while I was using slices of garlic bread to soak up the last little bits of spicy, clam-y sauce.
Mario Batali’s Linguine with Clams adapted from epicurious.com
1.5 tablespoons kosher or coarse sea salt
1/2 pound linguine (I used spaghetti)
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 pound clams, scrubbed
1 tablespoonred pepper flakes
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 (14-ounce) can whole San Marzano tomatoes in juice, juice reserved and tomatoes coarsely chopped
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon fresh flat-leaf parsley, coarsely chopped
In large pot over moderately high heat, combine 8 quarts of water to boil and salt. Bring to boil, then add linguine and cook to 1 minute short of al dente according to package directions (pasta should still be quite firm).
Meanwhile, in large sauté pan over moderately high heat, heat 3 tablespoons extra- olive oil until hot but not smoking. Add garlic and sauté until just golden, about 30 seconds. Add clams and half the red pepper flakes and sauté 1 minute. Add wine, tomatoes and juice, and 1/4 cup parsley and simmer, uncovered, just until clams open, 7 to 8 minutes.
Drain linguine and add to pan. Simmer, tossing occasionally, until linguine is just tender, about 1 minute. Add remaining 2 tablespoons parsley, 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes, tossing to coat. Transfer to serving dish and serve immediately.