Spaghetti With Clams in Parchment

Circle B Kitchen

The flavors created inside these parchment packets is really quite extraordinary. The pasta soaks up all of that flavor and makes for one very tasty dish. Store your clams on ice in the refrigerator (in an open bag or bowl) for up to 2 days before using them. When ready to cook them, soak the clams in cold water for about an hour to rid them of any sand or grit.

Recipe by Marc Vetri (Rustic Italian Food)

1 pound refrigerated extruded spaghetti, or 12 ounces boxed dried spaghetti

8 tablespoons olive oil

4 scallions, trimmed and top quarter removed, sliced crosswise

4 cloves garlic, smashed

50 to 60 small clams, cleaned (I like to use little neck clams - about 6-7 per person)

1/4 cup dry white wine

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/4 cup water

1/2 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 425ºF. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Drop in the pasta, quickly return to a boil, and cook until slightly underdone and chewy, 1 to 6 minutes, depending on how long it has been refrigerated (or 7 to 8 minutes for the boxed stuff). Drain the pasta, reserving 2 cups of the pasta water.

Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the scallions and garlic and cook until soft but not browned, about 3 minutes. Add the clams, wine and pepper flakes. Extend the sauce with pasta water as needed. There should be enough to streak pan's base. Cover and simmer until the liquid reduces in volume by about half, 5 minutes. When the clams have opened, discard the garlic and any empty clam shells.

Add the drained pasta to the pan along with the remaining 6 tablespoons olive oil and the parsley. Cook over medium heat, tossing until the sauce gets a little creamy. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Tear 4 sheets of parchment paper, each about 2 feet long. Place one-fourth of the pasta mixture in the center of each sheet of parchment. Bring the long sides of the parchment up above the pasta so the edges meet. Fold the edges together and keep folding down until tight over the pasta. Flip over and pull each side of parchment over the center to make a tight packet. Flip back over so the folded seam side is up.

Transfer the packets to a baking sheet and bake until the paper browns lightly, 5 to 7 minutes. If you have convection, turn it on to help the paper brown. Transfer to plates and allow guests to slit open the packets lengthwise with a knife.