Your New Favorite Summer Menu (+ Shopping List)

Old-timer readers will take one look at this photo
and recognize that main dish as DALS MVP Spaghetti with Clams and Extras. It’s on page 56 of my first book, Dinner: A Love Story, and has made countless appearances on my summer table and instagram feed. I would be willing to bet almost anything that if you check back with me in 25 years, I’ll still be making it as often as I can in July and August. Why? Because hi-qual clams in an ocean of briny broth shout SUMMER and the whole recipe shouts SIMPLE, especially when paired with a Napa-based slaw and a golden beet salad, both of which are fresh and flavorful enough to require minimal intervention on behalf of the cook. For those of you who view clams as a page-turner, I beg you to face your fears and try it anyway. To help you along, I even made a shopping list, which was so short, I found myself cross-checking back and forth eight times. This can’t be right, I kept saying. But then I remembered we’re talking summer cooking here: Of course it’s right.

Click here to download the shopping list. Also, remember at the bottom of every DALS post, there is a little green button that says “Print Friendly” which allows you to print the post with or without pictures. I recommend doing that for this post, since I assembled all the recipes into one place for you below. YOU ARE VERY VERY WELCOME!

Spaghetti with Clams & Extras

1 pound spaghetti
1 small shallot, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
Few shakes of red pepper flakes
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
24 to 36 fresh clams (we usually use littlenecks), rinsed
1⁄2 cup dry white wine
Handful of chopped fresh herbs, such as basil, parsley, and chives Handful of chopped fresh tomatoes (any kind)
Handful of corn off the cob (optional)

Make the spaghetti according to the package directions. In a separate large stock-pot or Dutch oven set over medium heat, sauté the shallot, garlic, pepper flakes, and black pepper in the oil. (Its not necessary to salt—the clams are naturally briny.)

Add the clams, wine, and herbs. When the clams steam open (10 to 15 minutes), add the tomatoes and corn (if using) and cook another 2 to 3 minutes. Discard any clams that haven’t opened and then toss the whole thing with pasta, making sure to scoop lots of the broth into the bowl. Serve with crusty bread for sopping.

Roasted Beets with Feta and Mint
Wrap 6-8 beets in foil and roast for 1 1/2 – 2 hours at 375°F. Allow to cool, then peel (When beets are cooked, the skin should slide right off) and slice as shown. Toss in a bowl with a good glug of olive oil, a drizzle of red wine or white balsamic vinaigrette, a handful of crumbled feta, and 2-3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint and freshly ground black pepper.

Chilled Napa Cabbage with Cilantro and Shallots (from the Alice Waters bible, Vegetables)
Macerate (i.e. soak) 1 small shallot, minced in about 1/3 cup red or white wine vinegar for 15 minutes then toss the whole thing (vinegar and all) with a head of Napa cabbage (shredded) about 1 cup cilantro, salt, pepper, and a few glugs of good olive oil.

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Filed under: Dinner, Seafood

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I don’t know why I am so intimidated about cooking shellfish at home (though it’s my go-to for summer restaurant meals). I think it’s because so many recipes call for soaking the clams or mussels in water and cornmeal and then changing the water…but this doesn’t require that? We may be giving this a try this weekend!


Meg I had the same hesitation and finally did it – it was super easy and didn’t require any soaking. And it was delicious!17


This pasta with clams recipe is the bomb! We made it with Wellfleet Littleneck Clams while on the Cape, more fresh corn than you call for, and local cherry tomatoes and it was easily the most delicious meal we had while on vacation. Thanks so much for sharing!