Monday, May 27, 2013

Clear Broth with Clams and Zucchini

This is really very simple to do. The quality of the result will as always depend on the quality of the ingredients... alas, that is an unbending rule of good cooking!

Ingredients for 4 persons:

- one pound clams (vongole in Italy) - the best are the wild ones, straight from the sea but those from fish farming are okay too.
- 2 cloves garlic
- one whole zucchini or two if small, better if from a bio-garden but again, the other kind is ok.
- a couple of fresh tomatoes, as red and tasty as possible, peeled
- a tender celery heart
- vegetable broth: here you can cheat and use the Knorr powdered product, it is wholly acceptable. Or be brave and do your own broth, boiling together all the basic vegetables (onions, carrots, celery, parsley, leeks etc)


1. As always, you wash the clams well and put them in a pot with a tight-fitting lid, adding a couple of peeled garlic gloves sliced lengthwise so that the flavor spreads out easily (do not salt of course). Set over a high fire, close the lid and wait for the clams to burst open (you can hear them click against the pot's metal). It takes about 5 minutes.

2. Meanwhile you dice the zucchini in very small bits and slice the celery heart and cut the peeled tomatoes in half or in quarters (depending on size). You can also use unpeeled tomatoes if you prefer but then you will need to pull off the skin once they have cooked in the broth.

3. Clean the clams out of their shells and reserve - throw away the shells and the garlic pieces but keep the broth, making sure there's no sand in it (it there is, strain and use only the sand-free broth)

4. Top off the clam broth with vegetable broth (made from Knorr powder or from scratch using the usual vegetables, see above) in a proportion of two (vegetable broth) to one (clam broth).

5. Bring to a boil and throw in your diced vegetables, they will cook in a matter of two or three minutes. Take off the fire and pour in the clams. Sprinkle some chopped parsley (optional) and you're done!

And excellent, light starter.
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