This is a recipe I learned at the Gambero Rosso cooking school in Rome a few years ago so I take no credit for it whatsover. I love the fact that it can be made in advance and put in the fridge and so needs very little last-minute work if you’re having guests over to dinner, or for a buffet party. I think the recipe hails from the height of the fashion for serving food in glasses which began roughly in 2004 and which the French dubbed ‘verrines’ — a pun, I suppose, on the word ‘terrines’ — only that these dishes were served in glasses (verre = glass in French). Verrines do indeed look very colourful and attractive, like pretty maids all in a row. And it is only now that I appreciate the fact that Venus is mixed up in the naming of this bivalve mollusk so, who knows, they might even be something of an aphrodisiac … Clams ARE very nutritious, read on:
Clams are surprisingly high in iron. So high, in fact, that t-bone steaks and beef liver don’t compare. A three-ounce serving of cooked clams, or about nine small clams, has about 24 milligrams of iron. That’s more iron than recommended each day for most adults (iron RDA is 18 milligrams per day for pre-menopausal women and eight milligrams per day for adult men and post-menopausal women.) Some individuals, especially women, have a difficult time getting enough iron each day, resulting in anemia if not treated. If you suffer from low iron, eating clams occasionally will help maintain your iron stores. On the other hand, some individuals absorb too much iron or get too much iron from the foods they eat. For these people, eating clams often may be a problem. The minerals in clams doesn’t stop with iron. Clams are a good source of phosphorus, potassium, zinc, copper, manganese and selenium, as well.
And …. most important of all …. clams are deee-lish…ous!
THE PREPARATORY SAUTé
STARTING THE SOUP
PREPARING THE VENUS CLAMS
This is a photo of another type of venus clams (called ‘telline’) I used for another recipe. I include it here because I did the exact some thing with the venus clams I used for this recipe: i.e. soak them in plenty of very salty water. Remember: these clams are alive!
The clams in the photo below are in a colander. They had previously been left to soak in plenty of heavily salted water (i.e. as in the photo above) for 1 hour before being thoroughly rinsed in running water. This is done to get rid of any residual sand that might hide in the clams. The Italian term for this procedure is “spurgare” which literally means “expurgate” (i.e. remove objectionable matter – and sand in one’s mouth is defnitely objectionable!).
Add as much or as little chopped garlic as you like to a fryingpan whose bottom has been lined with olive oil. Choose one or two herbs of your liking: in this case rosemary and thyme (on the right) and add them to the fryingpan.
Turn the heat on, quite a strong one, and cover. The heat will make the venus clams open, and they will release a wonderful liquid. Don’t turn the heat off until all the clams have opened. If any clam does not open, throw it away.
Behind the clams is the asparagus soup. Use an immersion blender or a mouli to process the asparagus soup. Add a squeeze of lemon.
Then drain the liquid of the venus clams through a very fine colander, and add this liquid to the asparagus soup. Mix well with a wooden spoon.
Use your hands to remove the cooked clams from their shells and add them to the soup. Set aside a few clams with their shells on, to use as garnish. Done! Allow to cool and store in the fridge until about half an hour before serving.