Clam Pasta with Crispy Bread Crumbs & Herbs

Clam Pasta with Crispy Bread Crumbs & Herbs
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Last week Jake and I dropped off the kids and drove up towards the Olympic Peninsula. Where we camped for 3 nights with views of Hood Canal. Now I have to admit, I wasn't too excited about this trip. I mean, I knew it would be great to get some alone time without the kids, but after taking the kids the weekend before camping near Mt. Adams, I really had no desire to go. Even the day that we left, I talked to Jake about not wanting to go. I hadn't even unpacked from the first camping trip, I still had bug bites, and I was just getting use to sleeping in our bed again. But I am so happy we went. It was beautiful. And let's just say, camping without kids is a completely different scenario, then camping with. 

The mornings were spent drinking coffee, reading books, and planning the day all awhile staring out at the calm water. We moved at such a slow pace, no rushing, no running late, just us hanging out, relaxing. 

In the afternoons we grabbed our backpacks, shovels, rakes and clam digging gear and headed out. Wanting to make sure that we got there just as the water was getting out. Each day you are allowed 18 oysters and 40 clams each. It took about 3 hours the first day, having to hike in a mile each way. But each day we got a little bit faster. Even having a system where I gathered oysters while Jake shucked them. 

Once we gathered our daily limit we headed back to camp to clean the clams, put everything on ice and relax before dinner. Now because I wasn't too excited about this trip and I was busy working days before we left, I didn't have time to put much thought and effort into packing. So when it came time to cook up our oysters and clams, I was a bit concerned on how they would turn out. But this is camping, so you do what you can with what you have.

Normally with oysters, I always eat them in the half shell, but since you have to shuck them at the beach, that wasn't an option. So I dug through what Jake had packed and gathered up a few ingredients. Eggs, hot sauce, salt, pepper, and ritz crackers. Beat together the egg yolk with lots of hot sauce in a bowl. In a second bowl smash ritz crackers with a pinch of salt and pepper. And just like that, the best oysters I have ever had. Note, also the best I have ever had, is roasting a marshmallow and putting it between 2 ritz crackers. Move over graham crackers, because this sweet and salty combination was crazy good. 

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For the clams, I took a large skillet. Filled it with 1 inch of water. juice of 1 lemon, 2 garlic cloves smashed, and some butter. I would have added some dry white wine but we didn't bring the bottle opener. Major fail. Brought it up to a boil over the camp fire. Dropped the clams in and within 2-3 minutes as they popped open we fished them out. Served them with a garlicky-butter sauce. They were just perfect. 

We gave away some clams to each of our parents for helping out with the kids and Bob and we came home with about 50 leftover. I knew I wanted to make up a dish similar to how we did camping. So sticking with the same type of method, but adding a little extra ingredients. Topping the clam pasta off with some fresh herbs, nuts and very crispy bread crumbs. 

It was a great trip, a much needed trip. I cannot wait to go back....with my bottle opener. 

Clam Pasta with Crispy Bread Crumbs & Fresh Herbs
adapted from Bon Appetit
serves 4

1/2 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped
2 tablespoons freshly chopped chives
3 tablespoons freshly chopped parsley
2 tablespoon plus 1/4 cup olive oil
4 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 teaspoons crushed red pepper
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 dry white wine
3 dozen Butter clams, scrubbed
1 pound linguine 
1 baguette

In a medium pan, toast walnuts over medium heat for 4-6 minutes until fragrant, tossing occasionally. Set aside and when cool, lightly smash. 

Wipe out the pan. Cut off 2" of the baguette and roughly dice (or toss in food processor and give it a quick pulse). Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the pan and turn to medium-high heat. Add fresh bread crumbs to the pan. Tossing until deeply golden and crispy for 3-5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and set aside. 

In a separate bowl combine toasted walnuts, chives, parsley and 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Set aside. 

In a large pot, or dutch oven, add 1/4 cup olive oil and place over medium heat. Add red pepper flakes and garlic and cook for 2 minutes. Stir in the wine and bring to a boil. Cook for an additional 2 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high and add all of the clams. Cover the pot and give it a big shake. The clams take about 5-6 minutes to open. 

In a separate large pot, bring salted water to boil and cook the linguine until al dente. Reserve 1 cup of pasta water before draining. 

Add cooked pasta and 1/2 cup of pasta water to the clams. Give it a good toss. If the pasta feels a bit dry, add the remaining 1/2 cup of pasta water. Continue to toss for 2-4 minutes until all noodles are coated. 

Serve the pasta and clams topped with herb nut mixture and crispy bread crumbs. A large slice of toasted baguette per bowl works nice to for dipping. 

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