Just because you're making a Spanish dish with rice and shellfish does not mean it's got to be paella. Unlike that time-consuming old standard, this quick savory main course from the Basque region, home of some of the country's best chefs, makes the succulent clams, not the rice, the main feature. A pungent garlic-and-parsley-packed green sauce tops the clams, which are served on a bed of buttery rice pilaf; the sauce is great with any seafood. The accompanying asparagus salad has a tart dressing made with roasted peppers, a favorite ingredient in Spanish cooking. The vinaigrette can be refrigerated overnight; the rest of the meal is best made about an hour before serving.
Penelope Casas is a New York City-based food writer. Her newest book is ¡Delicioso!: The Regional Cooking of Spain (Knopf).