baked clams with basil breadcrumbs

photo credit: Jennifer Jeanne Adams

photo credit: Jennifer Jeanne Adams

When there's an abundance of basil in the garden, I love to use it in just about everything—from a simple pesto for grilled fish, to tossing into a salad, to this, one of my favorite recipes for weekend guests. 

1 cup chopped fresh breadcrumbs
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1/4 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
2 cloves garlic, chopped
Kosher salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons white wine
2-4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
12 hard-shell clams (littlenecks or cherrystones), scrubbed
Lemon wedges, for garnish, optional

1. Position a rack in center of oven. Set broiler to high. 
2. Make breadcrumbs. In bowl of a food processor, add breadcrumbs, basil, Parmigiano-Reggiano, and garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Pulse until coarse crumbs form. Transfer mixture to a bowl and stir in white wine and enough olive oil to evenly moisten mixture (you want it pretty wet). Set aside.
3. Arrange clams on a rimmed baking sheet. Broil until clams open, about 5 minutes. Remove clams and allow to cool. 
4. Meanwhile, pour any collected clam juice from baking sheet into a measuring cup. Set aside.
5. Remove top shell of clams and return opened clams to baking sheet. Run a spoon (or paring knife) underneath each clam to loosen it from its bottom shell. 
6. Divide breadcrumb mixture among clams, mounding each clam evenly with mixture. Drizzle top of each clam with a bit of reserved clam juice and season with salt and pepper. Broil clams until tops are just browned, 2-3 minutes. Serve warm with lemon wedges (if using).

Serves 4-6.

cook's note: There are three common varieties of hard-shell clams: chowder, cherrystones littlenecks. For this recipe, I prefer to use either cherrystones or littlenecks, because they are smaller and make for an easier bite-sized appetizer.


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