December 4, 2006

unintended fusion

One of my favorite one-dish meals is spaghetti e vongole... it's super easy to make, incredibly inexpensive, and absolutely delicious when you can get your hands on some fresh, sweet clams. I like this dish to have a soft-handed garlic flavor, with a relatively substantial spicy heat.

Tonight, we went with some impromptu modifications to the traditional recipie. Instead of chopped tomatoes, we did a fine dice of baby bell peppers, and rather than pecorino romano or parmesan, we topped the pasta with a light chiffonade of basil and lime zest for a lighter, zesty element. The basil and lime flavors were a natural pairing with the sweet clams, and to our surprise, they lended a fantastic southeast asian flavor profile to the dish... a sort of fusion-by-chance. The dish still matched nicely with the crisp (but substantial) Burgundian chardonnay we had on hand -- which we also used to steam the littleneck clams.

Lastly, one of our favorite things to do with pasta these days is to mix it with breadcrumbs toasted in olive oil... a little trick we've copied from a bucatini dish we loved at A16. The breadcrumbs are a fantastic way to make use of two-day-old baguette remnants, and the combination creates an awesome, lightly crunchy backdrop to the mouthfeel of al dente spaghetti. Small ribbons of prociutto round out the flavor of this dish... although it can be a bit saltier than bacon or pancetta (so adjust seasoning accordingly depending on the accent).

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