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Stuffed Clams (Vongole Ripiene)

Stuffed Clams (Vongole Ripiene)
Dishes like these fresh clams dusted with a crunchy crumb topping are often found in port-side restaurants on the tiny island of Procida, off the coast of Naples. There, the restaurants take advantage of the just-caught fish and shellfish delivered by local fishermen.

Ingredients:

  • 36 hard-shell clams, well scrubbed
  • 1/3 cup fine dried bread crumbs, preferably
      homemade from coarse country bread
  • 3 Tbs. grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or pecorino
      romano cheese
  • 3 Tbs. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 6 Tbs. olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • Lemon wedges for serving

Directions:

Working with one clam at a time and protecting your hand with a heavy towel, hold the clam in one hand with the hinge facing you. Push a round-tipped knife gently into the crack between the halves of the shell. Once the shell opens slightly, slide the knife around from side to side to separate the halves. Holding the clam over a bowl to catch the juices, scrape the flesh from one shell into the other. Discard the empty shell. Arrange the clams in a shallow baking pan. Strain the juices and pour a little over each clam.

Preheat a broiler.

In a bowl, combine the bread crumbs, cheese, parsley, garlic, 3 Tbs. of the olive oil, salt and pepper. Spoon the crumb mixture onto the clams. Do not pack the crumbs down or they will become soggy. Drizzle evenly with the remaining 3 Tbs. oil.

Broil until the crumbs are lightly browned, about 4 minutes. Remove from the broiler and immediately arrange on a platter or warmed individual plates. Serve with the lemon wedges.
Serves 6.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Savoring Series, Savoring Italy, by Michele Scicolone (Time-Life Books, 1999).