Thursday, April 23, 2009

Pasta with Clam and Tomato Sauce

When I had the most delicious pasta with clam and tomato sauce, it was cold early spring in Venice. I was a poor college student and traveling Europe for about a month with one of my girlfriends. Unfortunately she became sick when we arrived Italy. We found a cheap but clean and cozy hotel in Bologna. Then she decided to take a break for a few days and I chose to travel alone. I took a train and headed for Venice, which had been my dream.

I still remember the amazing sight suddenly appearing on front of my eyes while the train was approaching to Santa Lucia Station. I was so excited to be there and decided to absorb the city as much as possible. After getting off the train and stepped out of the station, I ran to cross the bridge, Ponte Tre Ponti. I walked narrow streets to see the people’s lives. I went to a few museums and stores selling beautiful Venetian art pieces. Every moment and every sight enormously fascinated me.

When I realized it was time for me to go back, I also felt starving. Then I recognized I skipped lunch. I was missing one of the most important factors of Italy, FOOD! I jumped to a small restaurant, which looked a cheap Italian fast food restaurant for tourists. At that time I had the most amazing pasta with clam and tomato sauce. I was young with an empty pocket but full of energy and dreams. Maybe I was hungry for anything. Since then, I have been to Italy, again, and many Italian restaurants around the world. However, the dish I had in Venice at that day has been still the tastiest pasta dish I have ever had.

1 lb fresh clams with shells
1 lb pasta (I used large conchiglie)
1 chopped onion
2-3 chopped tomatoes
½ cup white wine
2-3 cloves of garlic
1 tbsp tomato paste
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Extra virgin olive oil

1. Wash the clams very well. Place the clam in a large pot. Add 1 cup of water. Cover and bring to a boil. After boiling, lower the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove the clams from the pan. If the clam is not open, discard it. Strain the water and keep it aside.
2. Boil water in a large pot and cook the pasta for 8 to 10 minutes or al dente.
3. Heat the olive oil and the garlic in a large pot and fry the onion until it becomes transparent. Add the tomatoes and fry them for 3 to 5 minutes. Add the wine and tomato paste. Season with salt and pepper and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes.
4. Add the pasta and clams in the tomato mixture. Add ½ cup of the water from 1.
Stir and simmer for 3 minutes. Serve hot!

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