Spaghetti or linguine alle vongole … i.e. spaghetti or linguine with a venus-clam sauce … is, in very many ways, the epitome of a summer pasta dish. But, as the Hungarian born British author George Mikes (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Mikes) wrote in his autobiography on the subject of eating turkey, pasta alla vongole is good to eat ALL year round, not just during the Summer months and not just on Christmas Eve. I immodestly claim to make a very good pasta alle vongole and, if you would like to try out the recipe, you can look up my previous posts on the subject https://myhomefoodthatsamore.wordpress.com/2011/05/16/spaghetti-alle-vongole/
The difference with today’s recipe is the addition of courgettes/zucchini.
I read about this version in the Gambero Rosso magazine last Summer. A year later I have forgotten all the chemical and technical reasoning but it would appear that mussels and clams should definitely not be overcooked. I knew that already. What I had NOT anticipated is that apparently the best way to ‘cook’ these creatures of the deep blue sea is to steam them open in the oven at a very low temperature. Proper chefs have proper steam ovens for this purpose, because the temperature must be ‘just so’, but why not give it a try at home?, I thought to myself. The magazine article also provided a most outrageous tip — which I have yet to try — and that is to use the dishwasher! Seriously, I am not making this up! Obviously an empty dishwasher … and the idea is to place the clams in a sealed container (pyrex or otherwise). Anyway, on with the recipe.
Cut the courgettes into rounds and sauté them in some olive oil with the addition of garlic and pepper corns. You might well be forgiven for thinking that it looks as if I’m ‘drowning’ the courgettes, there is so much olive oil in the pan. And the reason for this apparent surfeit is that … a lot of pasta is going to be added to the dish, and the pasta is a glutton for olive oil.
I put the temperature at around 12o° C – a considerably higher temperature than that recommended in the magazine article. I took a peek at the clams 20 minutes later … and not much much was happening. So, true to character (which is imbued with impatience when it comes to unsupervised experimentation) I decided to cut the trial then and there and revert to good ol’ fashioned methods of cooking clams.
More of the same, basically … except that I cut the courgettes differently.