One French word: frais; a French recipe: Pâtes fraîches aux palourdes
We have just had exceptional tides here in the Finistère, together with storm winds, enormous waves and torrential rain. But when the tide is out, far out, the sands are dotted with people digging for shellfish. Palourdes are plentiful this week, and cheap for once, so I bought a few to spoil myself.
The French bit:
frais (masculine adjective), plural frais, feminine fraîche, plural fraîches.
Examples: de la crème fraîche (fresh cream), du pain frais (fresh bread), une haleine fraîche (nice breath), des fruits frais (fresh fruit), des huîtres fraîches (fresh oysters). The noun is la fraîcheur (freshness), which can also be used of temperature: la fraîcheur du matin (the cool of the morning).
My recipe is simple and delicious, you just have to be able to get hold of palourdes or clams. You can quite well use dried pasta, just adjust cooking times, and it doesn’t have to be tagliatelle.
Ingredients for 4 people:
- 2 shallots (finely chopped)
- 1 heaped tbs salted butter
- the outer leaves of a nice, fresh, green lettuce
- a large glass of dry white wine (you can also use cider, I did)
- 2 tbs thick fresh cream
- a handful of chopped green onion stems
- 1kg small clams (or palourdes if you can get them)
- 300gr fresh tagiatelle
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- If you are not sure your clams are clean and sand free, place them in a bowl of cold water with a cup of vinegar for half an hour, they will spit their sand out. Drain. (Should you by any chance have harvested them yourself, you can leave them in a bucket of sea water overnight to get rid of their sand.)
- Wash the lettuce leaves, roll up tightly, and cut into a chiffonnade, that is, very fine slices, excluding the stalks at the end.
- Warm your dinner plates.
- Put salted water on to boil for the pasta.
- In a heavy bottomed pan, melt the butter and fry the shallot until transparent.
- Add the glass of white wine, stir, bring to the boil and throw in the clams. Stir and put the lid on the pan. Lift the lid and stir occasionally so that the clams cook evenly. They should just open, if you cook them longer they will be tough and tasteless. This takes only a few minutes.
- Put the pasta into the boiling water in the other pan. Bring back to the boil. Fresh pasta should only cook for a couple of minutes, watch it carefully so as not to overcook it.
- Add the cream to the clam saucepan and some freshly ground black pepper, stir well, turn off the heat.
- Drain the pasta.
- Place a layer of chiffonnade on each serving plate, place pasta on top, leaving some lettuce showing (it adds colour and some nutrients), ladle clams on the top of the pasta, with a generous serving of juices. You can also, and I think this is more typically Italian, add the pasta to the clams and stir before serving, to coat the pasta with the juices.
- Serve quickly with fresh, crusty bread.