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Clams with White Beans, Fennel and Broccoli Rabe

Tender, sweet Manila clams take only minutes to cook. Here, they’re augmented by fresh fennel, saffron and red pepper flakes for a sophisticated dish. Serve with crusty bread brushed with olive oil and sprinkled with black pepper.

Ingredients:

  • 1 fennel bulb, a few fronds reserved and minced for garnish 
  • 1/2 tsp. fennel seeds 
  • 1 Tbs. olive oil, plus more for drizzling 
  • 1/2 large red onion, finely chopped 
  • 1/4 to 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes 
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine  
  • 1 can (14 1/2 oz.) cannellini beans, drained, juices reserved 
  • 1 bottle (8 fl. oz.) clam juice 
  • Large pinch of saffron threads 
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste 
  • 1/2 small bunch broccoli rabe or Chinese broccoli, chopped 
  • 2 lb. Manila clams, rinsed 
  • Coarse kosher salt, to taste (optional) 

Directions:

Cut the fennel bulb lengthwise into quarters and then slice the quarters crosswise. In a mortar or spice mill, coarsely grind the fennel seeds.

In a large nonstick fry pan over medium-high heat, warm the 1 Tbs. olive oil. Add the fennel bulb, fennel seeds, onion and red pepper flakes, and sauté until the fennel and onion start to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the wine and boil until it evaporates, about 1 minute. Add the drained beans, clam juice, saffron and a generous amount of black pepper, and simmer to blend the flavors, about 5 minutes. Add the broccoli rabe and simmer until it begins to wilt, about 1 minute. Add the clams. Stir in the reserved juices from the beans if the mixture is dry. Cover and boil until the clams open, about 5 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasonings, adding salt if needed. Discard any clams that failed to open.

Divide the clam mixture between 2 warmed deep bowls. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with fennel fronds and serve immediately. Serves 2.

Quick Tips: The recipe can be easily doubled, but use a large Dutch oven instead of a fry pan to accommodate the large quantity of clams. They need a little expanding room in order to steam properly.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Weeknight Fresh & Fast, by Kristine Kidd (Williams-Sonoma, 2011).