Roasted Clams with Sausage, Tomatoes and Fregola

August 30, 2016

With summer coming to a close we're soaking up the sun and cooking out of doors as much as possible. Doesn't food taste so much better when kissed by the fresh air and flavorful smoke of a wood burning fire? It's something I miss when the chill of fall is upon us. While our summer has been filled with meals of grilled fish, steaks and burgers, and chunky vegetable kebabs, we love to use our grill to fire up a pot a steamed shellfish - mussels, oysters, crab, clams, cockles. This clams recipe is the perfect one-pot dish that can be cooked in a wood fire oven (if you have one), over a barbecue grill, even in the oven or stovetop if the weather isn't cooperative. 

Cook up flavorful fennel sausage (or try a smoky variety), fresh tomatoes, garlic and shallots, a pinch of chili pepper flakes, and fregola - a tiny round pasta similar to Israeli couscous - with fresh Manilla clams. Toast slices of some good bread like a crusty Pugliese or ciabatta to serve with the meal and, of course, enjoy a nice glass of wine such as a dry rosé or a Sauvignon blanc for the perfect pairing.

Roasted Clams with Sausage, Tomatoes and Fregola 
Adapted from Hearthstone Kitchen and Cellar

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1-2 cloves garlic, sliced
1 pinch chili flakes (or to your taste, depending on how spicy you'd like it)
2 tablespoons shallots, minced
8 ounces Manilla clams, washed and cleaned of sand
3 tablespoons white wine
8 ounces clam stock or juice (look for the little bottles of clam juice in your supermarket)
¼ cup fregola or Israeli couscous
2 ounces fennel sausage, cut or broken into small pieces (alternatively, try a smoked kielbasa or chicken sausage)
1 large Roma tomato, diced
1 tablespoon lemon vinaigrette (see recipe below)
Fresh chopped parsley for garnish
Salt and pepper to taste
Toasted French or country bread for serving

Ingredients for the Lemon Vinaigrette:
Makes 3/4 cup
1/2 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon peel
Salt and pepper to taste

For the Vinaigrette:
Whisk all ingredients in bowl to blend. Season with salt and pepper. Store the remaining vinaigrette in the refrigerator.

For the Clams:         
In a hot cast iron pan add oil, sliced garlic and chile and lightly toast the garlic, add the shallots as the garlic browns. Add the clams to the hot pan, toss. Add the white wine, reduce slightly and add the clam stock.

In a bowl mix the fregula, sausage, tomatoes and toss with the vinaigrette, then add this to the clams. Return the pan to the oven or grill, remove to toss occasionally until all the clams have opened.

Garnish with chopped parsley and season with salt and pepper, serve with toasted bread.