A wader-wearing fisherman steps out smiling from the refrigerated barnlike structure, where haddock and other local fishes are getting sorted and processed, cleaned, scaled and filleted, to help the customer, who was me. I was charmed and happily waited in the cold sunshine for the burly guy to go inside and bag up my stuff. I made off with a pound each of steamers and mussels for just about four dollars. I planned to make a Valhallan feast with humble ingredients. Today we need pasta basking in butter and oil. We need a fire in the wood burning stove and crisp wine and a good baguette to swab through the remaining garlic-and ocean-infused sauce. If you’re like me, you’re feeling energized by the stark, unadorned landscape and promise of a new year, but in equal measure in need of comfort at the end of the day. A balance of motivation and hibernation. This dish is a balm for the soul on these kinds of days. Easy to prepare, but special, peasant-elegant.
Linguine with Mussels and Clams
- 1 lb clams, scrubbed
- 1 lb mussels, scrubbed and debearded*
- 1 package (9 oz) fresh linguine
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 4 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 cup white wine
- 2 tablespoons butter
- Big squeeze of lemon juice
- 1/4 cup parsley
- Asiago cheese
To prepare the clams scrub their shells and rinse repeatedly in cold water. For the mussels, run them under cold water in a colander whilst you prep the other ingredients. In a large pot over medium heat add olive oil, garlic, red pepper flakes, and salt. Stir 4-5 minutes. Turn up the heat to high, add the wine and clams, cover. After five minutes add mussels. Cook for ten minutes, frequently shaking the pot. In another pot, make the linguine according to package directions. When done, drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid, and coat pasta with butter back in the cook pot. When the shellfish have opened (discard any that haven’t) toss with the pasta. If the shellfish cooking liquid looks dirty, as mine did, don’t use it, and instead add a splash of wine along with parsley, lemon juice, and grated cheese.
* The majority of my mussels were already beard-free.