Sunday, December 19, 2010

Christmas and Clams!

Regular followers of Gourmet Goddess could be forgiven for thinking that I had fallen off the face of the earth, given my lack of posts over the last couple of weeks. Things have been incredibly hectic, as we run headlong into to the end of 2010. There has been quite a lot of eating out (damn you silly season!) with the occasional sneaky midweek pizza delivery (oh yes, it's not all "plating up" and degustation in the GG kitchen. Even me, who adores cooking suffers from days when I just can't face entering the kitchen - ok, well not that many days....but believe me, they do happen!)

I'm lucky to be able to take a couple of weeks off over the Christmas break and this year I really feel like I need it. 2010 has been huge - amongst other things I have moved 2 households and created a new one, got engaged, visited 7 countries, attended cooking school in France, moved workplace into a new office, started my first vegetable garden (with composting!), crawled underground through Viet Cong fighting tunnels, eaten river snake on a stick and fried crickets in Cambodia, eaten raspberries warm from the sun on the steps of Sacre Couer in Paris and had the pleasure of experiencing the best meal of my life thus far at Tetsuya's (check out my recent review for all the details) Looking back over the year, it has been completely amazing. I'm looking forward to using the next few weeks to regroup and relax before the new year begins (and 2011 is already shaping up to be another biggie)

Now that I am offiicially on holiday and Christmas is only 5 days away, I really need to sort out what I am cooking for Christmas lunch - how are the rest of you going in the Christmas planning department? My problem at the moment is too many ideas! I never really do the "traditional" lunch (you know, the full pudding and turkey thing, usually in 40 degree heat- memories of childhood Christmas dinners in Perth) This year is rather special, as I will be cooking Christmas dinner for the first time for my lovely in-laws-to-be. Well, no matter what I decide to cook, I do have a few bottles of French champagne stashed away for the occasion, so that's a start!

When I was out yesterday talking to my fishmonger about possible menu items for Christmas day, I noticed he had some lovely fresh vongole (clams) for sale. I really love vongole and usually serve them the traditional Italian way - cooked with chilli, garlic and oil and served with spaghetti. This time, I thought I would do something a bit different to my usual recipe. I went for a tasty tomato based sauce, with the delicious addition of leeks, olives, rocket, roasted capsicum and a hint of chilli - a really tasty and a great way to serve the clams.

I chose a garlic, basil and celery linguine for the pasta this time - a lovely variety that I purchased recently, made in Australia by the award winning pasta company Bellata Gold. They are a family company based in Tamworth NSW, who produce a beautiful range of pure durum wheat semolina pastas. To learn more about them and their great product, check out the website:  I purchased a few varieties at a gourmet store in Canberra last weekend, but looking at the prices on the Bellata Gold website, I bought mine at a big markup. I will be buying direct from the producer next time - a whole lot cheaper!

So, here is this week's recipe - packed full of flavour and easy to put together. Just make sure that your seafood is super fresh and you can't go wrong.

Vongole linguine
with leek, olive and rocket sauce

You will need:
About 500g fresh vongole (clams), 375g linguine or spaghetti, 1 leek sliced finely (use only the white and pale green part), 3 cloves garlic, 1 small red chilli seeds removed and chopped finely, 1 heaped tablespoon chopped black olives, 1 heaped tablespoon finely diced roasted red capsicum (you can buy this at the deli or continental shop - or try the olive/pickle section of your supermarket - you can get decent one roasted capsicum in jars), 2 cups diced tinned tomatoes or passata (I prefer passata, but tinned tomatoes are fine), 1 teaspoon sugar, 1 bunch rocket finely chopped, a splash of olive oil, 1 tablespoon salted butter, Salt and pepper to taste.

Heat the olive oil in a pan and add the leek. Cook on a medium heat until it starts to soften. Add the garlic and cook for about a minute. Add the chilli and the tomatoes/passata. Combine and allow to simmer gently for 5 minutes. Add the sugar, olives, capsicum and simmer for another 10 minutes.

Put your water on to boil for the pasta, with a teaspoon of salt. When it starts to boil, add your pasta, give it a good stir and let is boil. In the meantime.....

Rinse the vongole under cold water and drain well. Add to the tomato mixture and put the lid on the pan. Allow the vongole to cook for a few minutes. When they are cooked they will pop open. Disgard any that don't.

Add the rocket and butter to the mixture and stir it through. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper to taste.

When your pasta is cooked, drain it and toss the sauce through.
Serve right away.



  1. Thank you for the recipe. Unfortunately my family didn't give me a chance to take a picture of it.

  2. Sounds like they enjoyed it Olga :) Did you find it easy to put together?

  3. I found this recipe easy to cook. It wasn't easy to buy all ingredients together. Especially the clams. But the effort was very much appreciated.
    I wish you luck with Christmas dinner!

  4. Thanks Olga- you too! I think I have narrowed down the menu and have pretty much settled on what we are having. Will be shopping and cooking tomorrow so it will be easy on the day. Will post pics and the menu on GG. Merry Xmas!