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Monday, July 6, 2009

Clams Under $10

Today, more than usual, I was desperately homesick for my mom. Living 7-8 hours away from her and my younger brothers never seemed very far, until I decided to get married --- and I don't have them here with me while I plan, and stress.

So, craving her presence I decided to fall back on the comfort of my kitchen and made a dish I learned from her so long ago ( I even remember refusing to eat this particular dish as a child, but lately I find it reminds me of home). Its simplicity is one of the best things about it – and it has very common ingredients that most of us food e
nthusiasts have lying around the house.

While I don't prefer the canned clams, they do make the dish simple and cheap, and if rinsed thoroughly they can still have a clean flavor.

Linguine with White Clam Sauce
(Serves 4)
3/4-1 lb. Linguine pasta
4 – 6.5 oz. cans chopped clams (you can also use minced clams if preferred) –
2 tbsp. olive oil
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 small bunch parsley, coarsely chopped
1 lemon, chopped with seeds and rind removed
Optional 2-4 tbsp. cornstarch

This recipe requires a little bit of work ahead of time to clean and prepare the clams. Even when working with canned clams you tend to get some grit and sand mixed in with the juice, so first you definitely want to make sure your clams (and juice) are clean. To do this, first I drain the clam juice into a tall glass (or two), cover them with foil and allow them to sit for at least 4 hours in a cool place to allow the sand to settle to the bottom. Then suck up the clean juice carefully from the top with a turkey baster and set aside in a clean measuring cup.

Meanwhile, in order to clean the clams, place them in a small wire strainer and submerse the strainer and clams into a bowl filled with clean cold water and agitate. I repeat this 6-7 times and then rinse once with the tap and set aside.

Once these steps are complete you’re ready to proceed with this recipe.

First, cook the linguini pasta according to the package instructions.

Meanwhile, cover the bottom of a small skillet with the olive oil and heat. Brown the chopped garlic in the olive oil and let sit. Add the clam juice (approximately 1 1/2 to 2 cups cleaned) and heat to a low boil. If you want a thicker, creamer sauce (the way my hubby prefers it) you can add a few tablespoons of cornstarch at this point and whisk while heating until the sauce remains smooth (not chunky).

Add the clams and let simmer 10 minutes. Add the parsley and lemon at the end and serve over cooked linguine.

Price Break-Down for Recipe:
For every recipe I post here there are a few items that I assume every cook will have on hand, so those items (where indicated) will not be included in the price break down. For this particular recipe I assume you have: olive oil, fresh garlic and cornstarch.

4 – 6.5 oz. cans chopped clams - $1.39 per can – $5.56 Total
1lb. package of Linguini pasta – 10 for $10 this week at my local market - $1.00 Total
1 small bunch flat leaf parsley - $0.99 per bunch - $0.99 Total
1 lemon – 3 for $1 - $0.33 Total
Total for Recipe: $7.88 for 4 servings.

Even if add a tossed salad with a quick olive oil, balsamic and herb dressing I can still pull this meal together for under $10! With that kind of savings you can even throw in a nice, but still cheap, bottle of white wine and not feel guilty about the indulgence.

If I do splurge on the bottle of white wine I will throw 1/3 cup of it into the sauce for a little extra something. Enjoy!

Per serving (sauce): 180 calories, 2 g protein, 2 g fiber, and Very High in Vitamins A and C


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