A sweet, superversatile garlic puree is the star of this satisfying dish. In addition to swirling it into the silky broth, chef Michael Psilakis spreads the leftovers on toast in place of butter or folds it into Greek yogurt for a quick dip. Once the garlic puree is made, this dish comes together in minutes.
Slideshow:More Clam Recipes
GARLIC PUREE :
3 cups garlic cloves (about 7 heads of garlic)
8 sprigs fresh thyme
1 fresh bay leaf
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons black peppercorns
1 1/4 cups canola oil
1 1/4 cups extra-virgin olive oil
2/3 cup dried fregola
2 tablespoons canola oil
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
5 1/2 dozen medium littleneck clams, scrubbed
1 cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 scallions, thinly sliced
1/4 cup chopped parsley leaves, plus more for garnish
1/4 cup chopped dill, plus small sprigs for garnish
2 teaspoons finely chopped mint
Lemon wedges and crusty bread, for serving
How to Make It
Make the garlic puree Preheat the oven to 300°. In a medium enameled cast-iron casserole, combine all of the ingredients. Cover and braise in the oven until the garlic is very tender, about 1 hour; let cool to room temperature.
Using a slotted spoon, transfer the garlic cloves to a mini food processor and puree until smooth. You will have about 1 1/2 cups of garlic puree. Strain the oil from the casserole into a 1-quart heatproof jar and discard the aromatics. Let the oil cool completely, then refrigerate; reserve for another use.
Make the clams In a medium saucepan of salted boiling water, cook the fregola until al dente, 10 to 12 minutes; drain well.
Meanwhile, in a large pot, heat the oil. Add the sliced garlic and cook over moderate heat, stirring frequently, until softened, about 2 minutes. Add the clams, wine and 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons of the garlic puree and stir to coat the clams. Cover and cook over moderately high heat, shaking the pot occasionally, until the clams open, 5 to 7 minutes. As they open, use a slotted spoon to transfer them to a serving bowl; discard any that do not open.
Add the fregola, lemon juice, scallions, chopped herbs and more garlic puree, if desired, to the broth; season with salt and pepper. Pour the garlic broth over the clams and garnish with chopped parsley and dill sprigs. Serve immediately with lemon wedges and crusty bread.
The garlic puree can be refrigerated for up to 2 weeks or frozen for up to 1 month.
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