Jan 24, 2018

Linguine with Clams

Clams are not native to Hawaii. In the 1920s several species of clams and oysters were introduced from Japan and North America to Hawaiian waters as a food source. Among these was the Japanese littleneck clam, also known as the Manila clam.

Today, little neck clams are actually farm raised here on the West side of the island of Kaua'i. Sunrise Capital, owners of Kauai Shrimp, not only raise white shrimp but also clams. I happen to be very fond of clams, especially when used in this easy recipe.

The ingredients are available almost anywhere, even on a small island in Hawaii. Once you have gathered them, it will take you about an hour to prepare this delicious meal for 4. It's best to eat it right away, naturally with a nice bottle of cold Chardonnay and some hot crusty bread.

Linguine with Clams
1 1/2 tablespoons kosher or coarse sea salt
1 pound linguine dried pasta (one 16 ounce box)
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 chopped onion
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
2 pounds fresh clams, shells scrubbed clean
   (available at Friendly Market here on Moloka'i)
3- 6.5 ounce cans chopped clams with juice
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 cup dry white wine, like Chardonnay
1 (14.5-ounce) can sliced tomatoes in juice,
juice reserved and tomatoes coarsely chopped
1/2 cup of fresh flat-leaf parsley, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup of grated Parmesan cheese sprinkled on top,
   with hot crusty bread on the side

In large pot over moderately high heat, combine 10 quarts of water to a boil with salt. Add the linguine and boil on medium high for 12 minutes until pasta is 'al dente' (quite firm).

Meanwhile, in large sauté pan over medium-high heat, heat butter and extra olive oil until hot but not smoking. Add onion, garlic, and red bell pepper, and sauté until the onion is just golden, about a minute or two. Add both canned and fresh clams and the red pepper flakes and sauté 1 minute. Add wine, tomatoes (chopped) plus the juice, and 1/4 cup parsley and simmer, uncovered, just until clams open, 7 to 8 minutes.

Drain the linguine and return it to the pot, mixed with a little olive oil to keep it from sticking together. After the clams have opened in the pan, pour the sauce over the pasta and carefully mix the ingredients together so that the clams remain in the shells. Transfer the linguine with clams to plates or a serving bowl and serve immediately, sprinkled with the rest of the chopped parsley and grated Parmesan cheese. Serve with crusty bread on the side.

Makes 4 servings.

Note: You can remove the fresh cooked clams from the pan before mixing the sauce with the pasta. This will allow you to place them on top of the pasta after plating. They say "presentation is everything".

Also, be sure you inspect the clams before you buy them to make sure that the shells are not open. This could be dangerous to your health.

Jan 16, 2018

A Tasty Soup That's Good For You!

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Chickpea & Lentil Soup
I have been told that Hawaiians don't eat lentils which explains why I had such a hard time finding them in Molokai's grocery stores (thank you Kualapu'u Market)!. 

 Lentils are considered to be the world's healthiest food. They are an excellent source of molybdenum and folate. A very good source of dietary fiber, copper, phosphorus and manganese. Additionally they are a good source of iron, protein, vitamin B1, pantothenic acid, zinc, potassium and vitamin B6. 

Did you know? When combined with a whole grain like brown rice, lentils provide the same quality protein as meat! Lentils are a good source of protein. A 1/2 cup serving of dry lentils provides about 26 grams of protein. With such high protein content, you are sure to be fuelled up all day long.

This recipe is a good example of how you can easily make a delicious meal for you and your family that will be healthy. It's a hearty Moroccan soup called Harira, served during the holy month of Ramadan. There are many variations to this recipe, but this one is one of my favorites because the mix of spices makes an incredible flavor that works really well with the ingredients.

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 onion, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons sweet Hungarian paprika
4-5 grinds of black pepper
1– 14.5 ounce can of diced tomatoes with the juice
2 tablespoons of tomato paste
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1– 14.5 ounce can chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
6 cups chicken stock or vegetable stock, preferably homemade
1/2 cup dried lentils (red lentils are the best if you can find them)
1/4 cup long-grain brown rice
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
A couple handfuls of roughly chopped fresh baby spinach leaves
1 small container of Greek Yogurt for serving (optional)

Season the chicken with sea salt and pepper as early as possible.

Heat the oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the chicken pieces in 2 batches and brown on both sides. Remove the chicken from the pot and set aside.

Add the onion, celery and carrot and cook until softened. Add all the spices and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly to prevent scorching. Add the diced tomatoes with their juice, tomato paste, chickpeas and salt. Cook until fragrant.

Return the chicken to the pot with any accumulated juices. Add the stock, lentils, brown rice and paprika, bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered for 50 minutes.

Stir in the chopped cilantro and parsley leaves. Place a small handful of roughly chopped spinach leaves in each bowl. Ladle soup on top of the fresh spinach and serve with a small spoonful of yogurt if you wish. Warm pita bread is perfect with this soup.

Note: This soup tastes even better the next day as the flavors have had time to deepen. Note though that the lentils and rice will absorb more of the liquid so you will have to add some broth to thin it out. Alternatively, if you plan to make this dish ahead, you follow the directions to simmer the soup for an hour and then the next day you can add the rice and simmer it for the remaining 30 minutes.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

A Pasta Classic

Roast Shrimp with Pesto Pasta
2 pounds medium sized shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 tablespoons olive oil

For the Pesto Sauce:
2 cups (one large bunch) fresh basil leaves
1 shallot, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste
1/4 cup chopped macadamia nuts, toasted
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup olive oil

To make the pesto sauce, combine basil leaves, shallot, garlic, oregano, red pepper flakes, chopped macadamia nuts (toasted in a dry skillet over medium heat), and grated Parmesan cheese in the bowl of a food processor; season with Old Bay seasoning, salt and pepper. With the motor running, add olive oil in a slow stream until emulsified; set aside. Makes about 1 cup of pesto sauce.

Preheat oven to 400˚F. Lightly oil a foil lined baking sheet or coat with nonstick spray. Gently toss shrimp with 1/2 cup of the pesto sauce and place shrimp in a single layer onto the prepared baking sheet.

Place into oven and roast just until pink, firm and cooked through, about 8 minutes. Serve as a main course on top of 1 pound of cooked pasta. Taste for additional seasoning and serve mixed with the extra 1/2 cup of pesto sauce that has been heated, and crusty bread.

Makes 4 servings.