Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Spagetti in Parchment with Clams and Scallions

This dish me back to my honeymoon in Italy, spaghetti with clams, and several bottles of wine, by the Trevi Fountain. Nearly seven years later, I made this for my husband (I recently developed a allergy *sniff* to shellfish), so although I didn't get to eat it, I did thoroughly enjoy the wine! This is a great date night dinner to make, or even for a dinner party. Since you can make the spaghetti ahead as Sara Molten suggests, you just have to bake it in the parchment paper before serving it, which you sip wine and pick on some prosciutto and Italian cheeses of your choice.

Sara Molten says in her note to this recipe: The pasta in this dish cooks twice, so be sure to undercook it when you first boil it. Then when it bakes in the parchment, it will absorb all the briny, garlicky, wine-soaked, chile-flecked juices from the seafood. That's how you create flavor! It also helps to use fresh scallions from the farmers' market. Better yet, use ramps when they are in season. You can also replace the clams with cockles and serve this with grated Parmesan if you like. 

Serves 4
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes

Adapted from Sara Molten's Weeknight Meals, Season 3
12 ounces boxed dried spaghetti
8 tablespoons olive oil
4 scallions, trimmed and top quarter removed, sliced crosswise
4 cloves garlic, smashed
50 to 60 small clams, scrubbed
¼ cup dry white wine
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
¼ cup water
½ cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. 
  2. Drop in the pasta, quickly return to a boil, and cook until slightly underdone and chewy, 7 to 8 minutes. Drain the pasta, reserving the pasta water.
  3. Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the scallions and garlic and cook until soft but not browned, about 3 minutes. Add the clams, wine, pepper flakes, and water. Cover and simmer until the liquid reduces in volume by about half, 5 minutes. When the clams have opened, discard the garlic and any empty clam shells.
  4. Add the drained pasta to the pan along with the remaining 6 tablespoons olive oil and the parsley. Cook over medium heat, tossing until the sauce gets a little creamy.
  5. Tear 4 sheets of parchment paper, each about 2 feet long. Place one-fourth of the pasta mixture in the center of each sheet of parchment. Bring the long sides of the parchment up above the pasta so the edges meet. Fold the edges together and keep folding down until tight over the pasta. Flip over and pull each side of parchment over the center to make a tight packet. Flip back over so the folded seam side is up.
  6. Transfer the packets to a baking sheet and bake until the paper browns lightly, 5 to 7 minutes. If you have convection, turn it on to help the paper brown. Transfer to plates and allow guests to slit open the packets lengthwise with a knife.
Cooks Tip: The spaghetti can be made ahead and refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

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