Clams Casino Cappellini alla Speranza is my partially Italian (like me!) way to describe my spin on fresh clam sauce, casino-style, over cappellini. Believe it or not, I couldn’t find a single recipe for this dish when it crossed my mind last year. Now that I’ve come up with one, I’m happy to share it with you.
CLAMS CASINO CAPPELLINI ALLA SPERANZA
4 cloves garlic
1 small shallot
extra-virgin olive oil
2 pounds littlenecks in shells
fresh parsley, coarsely chopped (a generous handful)
1 cup white wine (I use Meridian chardonnay)
1 cup water
½ fresh lemon, squeezed
1 cup matchstick-sliced green and red bell peppers, roasted
4 pieces bacon
1 teaspoon capers
Prepare 4 slices of bacon any way you see fit. I like to bake it in the oven on foil so it’s easy to clean up. Some say I’m lazy—I say I’m practical. Just about 10-12 minutes per side at 350 degrees F will do the trick. And you can roast the peppers simultaneously. Pat the excess grease with a paper towel and chop the bacon to bits!
So easy, really. Give the clams a serious rinse in cold water. Place them in a stockpot (or a fairly deep pan), cover them with water, wine and a handful of coarsely chopped parsley. Cook ’em till they open (this takes maybe 3-4 minutes), then remove them from their shells and coarsely chop them. Save that zuppa–it’ll become part of the sauce.
Pour the zuppa into a separate bowl. Now you can use the same stockpot or pan to sauté the garlic and shallot in some olive oil. You know the drill—don’t brown it!
Put your favorite lemon reamer to use to bypass the seeds and get all the fresh juice from ½ a lemon. Squeeze directly into the zuppa, which by now, has joined forces with the garlic and shallot you didn’t burn.
Everybody into the pool now—shallots, peppers, capers! But save those clams for last. Have a taste. Prepare to be impressed. Add clams back just to warm them. And now it’s time to eat!
I didn’t have to tell you to get the water boiling for pasta, did I? Dinner is served–over capellini, of course–with pecorino Romano and fresh parsley on top! Don’t forget the crushed red pepper (I love Penzey’s Aleppo), too! Buon appetito! Now, that’s Italian!