For some reason I was in the mood for clams last weekend. When I began delving into cookbooks to look for some new ideas, I stumbled across the exact same recipe in both 1080 Recipes and Casa Moro. Clams and white beans: so simple, but two ingredients I had never thought of combining. We brought back a bag of fresh clams from Taylor Shellfish after our walk on Sunday, and we were good to go.
I went with the Moro recipe, since it seemed a little more interesting, but it’s still not a complicated dish. Saute garlic in wine, add cooked white beans, saffron and parsley, add clams, done. I made it a little more work by using fresh cannellini beans, bought in the pod from Dunbar Gardens, but shelling beans is a very peaceful and philosophical activity – preferably with the aid of good music and a tasty beverage.
Once the beans were done, the dish took no time at all to put together. The flavors worked well, with the saltiness of the clams providing much of the seasoning; the saffron just creates a warm undertone. We ate it with pieces of baguette with plenty of soft Golden Glen salted butter, some cooked greens, and a Côtes de Gascogne white wine. The broth in the bottom of the bowl was the best part.
Traditionally this is served as a tapa, and it would definitely make a great appetizer, with just a few clams on a plate with a bite of bread. I could see making this as a starter for a Spanish-themed dinner party, to go with cocktails.
Almejas con Habichuelas (Clams and White Beans)
adapted from Casa Moro by Sam & Sam Clark
- 1/2 pound white beans (dry or fresh)
- 2 pounds clams, scrubbed and rinsed
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 4 Tbsp olive oil
- 30 threads saffron (a good pinch), soaked in 3 Tbsp hot water
- 2 Tbsp parsley, chopped
- 1/2 cup white wine or sherry
If using fresh beans:
Shell the beans, put them into a saucepan and cover with cold water. Add a clove or two of garlic and a bay leaf if you’d like. Bring to a boil, then cover and turn down to a simmer. Let cook until tender, about 30-40 minutes.
If using dried beans:
Rinse the beans and pick them over for odd, un-beany bits. Cook the same way as you would fresh beans, but let them simmer for two hours (give or take a bit depending on the freshness of the beans).
Now: drain the beans. I used the bean broth to cook kale, but don’t feel obliged to save it. Heat olive oil in a wide skillet and add the chopped garlic. When it begins to turn golden, add the wine and cook down briefly. Then add the beans, saffron (and its liquid), half the parsley, and the clams. Simmer until the clams open – discard any that remain stubbornly clammed up – stir in the rest of the parsley and serve.