Padma Lakshmi Shares A Dish From Her Cookbook Tangy Tart Hot & Sweet.
''I find that when I use olive paste and chipotle peppers, this familiar and simple dish takes on an earthy, savory flavor that is more intense than the usual pasta with clam sauce,” Lakshmi writes. “I was always squeamish about dealing with anchovies, but the paste does all the hard work, and that briny taste is indispensable here. If you don’t like clams, you can make the recipe with mussels or smaller cockles, or even leave out the shellfish if you like. It’s still amazingly good.”
SEAFOOD SPAGHETTINI WITH CHIPOTLE AND GREEN OLIVE PASTE
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 medium-size dried chipotle peppers, soaked in 1 cup boiling water, drained minced with seeds and skin
2 Tbsp. minced capers
1 Tbsp. anchovy paste
1 heaping Tbsp. green olive paste or tapenade
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. dried thyme
2 large yellow onions, quartered
2 lemons, sliced into rings
7 or 8 bay leaves
1 lb. spaghettini
1 Tbsp. sea salt
3 Tbsp. unsalted butter
4 cups olive oil
2 lbs. Manila clams
1 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1. Fill two large pots with water and bring them to a boil, one for the pasta and one for the clams.
2. While the water is coming to a boil, prepare the ingredients for the sauce: Combine the garlic, chipotle peppers, capers, anchovy paste, green olive paste, oregano and thyme.
3. When the water for the clams boils, add the quartered onions, sliced lemons and bay leaves. When the water for the pasta boils, add the spaghettini and sea salt and stir. From here, timing is essential; it is important for the three separate processes (clams, spaghettini, sauce) to be ready simultaneously, but whereas the pasta takes 5 to 7 minutes to cook, the clams and sauce need only be heated for 4 minutes.
4. When approaching serving time, heat the butter and oil in a saucepan over medium-low heat and saute the garlic-herb mixture. Now add the clams to the boiling lemon water and stir. Saute the sauce and cook the clams for 4 minutes—you’ll know they’re ready when the shells open widely. Do not overcook the clams. Drain the clams in a colander, remove the bay leaves and lemon slices, and add the clams to the sauce, turning off the heat. Stir together to evenly distribute the flavors, then cover.
5. When the pasta is done just al dente, drain the pasta and mix the sauce, pasta and parsley together very well. If the pasta seems a bit dry (as it can soak up the moisture of the sauce), you can drizzle a bit of extra-virgin olive oil into it while mixing. Serve hot as a main course.
Photography by: Courtesy of Padma Lakshmi