This is another beautiful pasta dish, packed with nutrients and flavors. To ease children gently into the world of shellfish, leave the clams whole and serve them separately in their shells - but strain the liquid that the clams cooked in and add it to the main sauce. Kids think they're getting plain linguine, and can't figure out why it tastes so delicious!
- 1 dozen clams, thoroughly scrubbed and rinsed under cold water
- 1 package linguine
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 2 Tbs. olive oil
- 1 bunch spinach or other bitter green, washed and chopped
- 1 tomato, chopped, or handful of cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1 cup white wine (or water)
- 1 bunch parsley, chopped
- 2 Tbs. butter
- zest of one lemon
- sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1. Go through the clams, making sure all are tightly closed, or that they close when you rap them with a spoon. Discard any that do not shut tightly.
2. Start cooking pasta. In the meantime, pour oil into large pan and heat onions over medium heat. When they have begun softening and turning translucent, lower the heat to medium-low, add the garlic and continue cooking gently another few minutes, taking care that the garlic doesn't brown. Set aside.
3. Heat the white wine (or water) in a deep pot. Add a sprig of parsley and a strip of lemon peel if you like. When the liquid has begun to simmer, add the clams and cover. Cook over medium-high heat until all clams have opened. You may need to jostle and shift the clams to let them open fully.
4. Use tongs or a slotted spoon to remove clams from pot and set aside in a serving bowl. Strain clam liquid through a fine sieve or cheesecloth, or else very carefully pour off the top, leaving any grit behind in the pot. Add this clear liquid to the onions and garlic and bring to a simmer.
5. Add spinach and tomatoes and simmer until spinach is soft and bright green. Toss the spinach-tomato sauce with the linguine, taking care to leave some linguine tossed more with the sauce and less with the vegetables for cautious eaters. (Consider serving some of the spinach and tomatoes raw, if your children prefer them that way.)
6. Finely chop parsley and lemon zest together, and serve mixed together in a small bowl. Place the parsley-zest, the clams and the pasta on the table. Allow each diner to assemble his or her own dish. Cautious eaters can have their pasta with plain sauce, setting aside stray tomatoes or shreds of spinach that might have snuck onto their plates. Adults and adventurous children can add clams, the parsley-zest mixture and freshly ground pepper.
Larissa Phillips is the contributing food editor for Parenthood.com and Dominion Parenting Media.