“Summer afternoon—summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.
We hear you, Henry James…especially when summer days can be spent on the beach; family and friends arranged in a giant semi-circle with the ocean, seagulls and the occasional dolphin pod as entertainment for the day! Don’t you love when beach time slides into happy hour and bumps into to dinner time, even when the crowd that has gathered decides to keep the party going and stay for dinner? The mesh bag of clams and fresh baked semolina bread purchased at the local farmers market that morning for a few people somehow needs to be dinner for 15. Loaves and fishes, people!
It is hard to leave the beach, but the snacks are exhausted and the beverages have run dry, sandy and sun-soaked we drag ourselves home for dinner. Farm market Jersey tomatoes and basil from the garden are turned into a giant Caprese salad—perfect for a crowd. Cans of chopped clams in the cupboard can stretch the steamed little necks into Linguine alle Vignole. And a giant pot, used for steaming crabs can cook a couple of pounds of pasta al dente, at once. Open wine, some for the cook, some for the clam sauce; assign guests to cutting boards of parsley and garlic, “Alexa play Summer Winds by Frank Sinatra”.
Impromptu meals, lots of laughter and a little wine make great summer memories. Meals based on local bounty, fresh and easy to find, make for the best feasts. Tables set with mix-matched dishes and silverware, are made elegant with hydrangeas in jars, and seasonal pouches—that make it seam like you had the night planned all along……
Linguine and Clams Recipe
- 2 pound pasta-we like linguine
- Salt for pasta water
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 stick of butter
- 4-6 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 50-100 dozen littleneck clams, rinsed and scrubbed
- 2 cups dry white wine
- 1 cup finely chopped parsley
- Freshly ground black pepper
How to Make It
In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the pasta until just al dente, then drain.
Meanwhile, in a large high-sided skillet, dutch oven or saucepan heat the olive oil and butter. Add the minced garlic and crushed red pepper and cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until the garlic is lightly browned, about 1 1/2 minutes. Add the clams and wine, cover and simmer for about five minutes. Remove the lid and start removing the clams as they open. Discard any that do not open.
Add the can of chopped clams and the juice and half the parsley to the broth in pan, bring to a boil and cook for about five minutes, reducing down a bit. Add the pasta and toss with the sauce, letting the pasta absorb some of the sauce. Remove to a large serving bowl, top with the little necks and remaining chopped parsley and serve.