Clams are always an easy dish, and I prefer them to mussels – they’re smaller, have better texture and far tastier. A while back, I was making my Greek version of chili using ground lamb and other Mediterranean ingredients. I found myself grilling some clams and ladling the Greek chili on top to serve as a winter lunch. Mixing up flavors can really elevate a dish to a higher level.
This is a more nuanced version of lamb and clams, as I make our traditional lamb bolognese and add it to an already robust mixture of tomatoes, red peppers, wine, butter and herbs that the clams have been steaming in. It’s a fresh and less dense dish that can make a great weeknight dinner or a casual lunch. Be sure to serve with freshly grilled and crusty peasant bread.
- 1 quart of our lamb bolognese (there will be 4 quarts left over, so freeze in quart size containers and use over the next 6 months)
- 3 pounds little neck clams
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 4 shallots, peeled and sliced,
- 1 cups fresh basil, thinly sliced
- 1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
- 2 cups of cherry or mixed grape tomatoes, sliced in half
- 1 cup of dry white wine
- 1 cup of clam juice
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- Extra virgin olive oil
Herb Feta Garnishes
- 1/2 cup fresh basil, thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup fresh chives, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup feta cheese, in brine but drained and crumbled by hand
Clams are a sandy creature, so just before it is time to cook, fill a medium bin with ice water, mix in flour then add the clams. Let sit for 45 minutes to push the sand out, then rinse and keep on ice until ready to cook
- Place a large skillet over medium heat, add the butter and drizzle a teaspoon of olive oil, when melted and bubbling, add the red pepper flakes, shallots, basil, red bell pepper and tomatoes. Sauté for 5-7 minutes and sure to stir with a wooden spoon.
- Add the wine, clam juice, 1 teaspoon of kosher salt and a 1/2 teaspoon of pepper. Cook down for 5 minutes, add the clams and cover for about 7 minutes until they have all opened. Then add the lamb bolognese, toss everything together and remove from heat. Separately add the garnishes: basil, chives and feta. Drizzle a little olive oil and season to taste.
- Serve with grilled crusty bread.