Turnip and clam orecchiette

Turnip and clam orecchiette


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Clams work so well with bitter flavours so this is an excellent marriage. The combination of salty clams, bitter turnips and a little kick of chilli is very moreish. This recipe is best if you can find turnips that still have their leaves. Asian supermarkets often sell Tokyo turnips, which would work well here. This recipe requires a little bit of fiddly work but is absolutely worth the effort!

This sauce would also be delicious served simply on a bruschetta or else on soft polenta. You could also add a pulse (such as cannellini beans) to the sauce to create a hearty soup.

Wash the clams thoroughly and discard any that are open or damaged. In a large saucepan that can hold the clams in more or less one layer, pour in 30ml of olive oil. Add one garlic clove and 4 parsley stalks and, once sizzling, add the clams along with the wine. Place a lid over the top and allow to steam for 3 minutes. At this point have a look to see if the clams have opened. If not, carry on steaming until they have. Once open, pour the clams into a colander, reserving the cooking liquor
Discard any clams that have not opened and pick the clam meat from the shells. Place in a bowl and pour the cooking liquor through a sieve over the clams
Dice the turnips to a similar size to the clams. Chop the remaining garlic, turnip stalks and parsley stalks quite finely, setting the turnip and parsley leaves to one side. Heat the remaining olive oil in a saucepan, then add the stalks and garlic. Let them fizz enthusiastically for 30 seconds, then add the diced turnips and chilli flakes. Stir well and reduce the heat to medium. Cook with the lid on for 5 minutes, stirring every now and then. You don't want the turnips to take on any colour
Roughly chop the turnip leaves and add them to the turnips. Replace the lid and cook for another 5 minutes. At this point, pour over half the clam liquor that has been sitting in the bowl with the clams, and allow to simmer for another 5 minutes. Taste the mixture and add salt and pepper if necessary
Boil the orecchiette in salted water according to the packet instructions. Chop the parsley leaves roughly. When the pasta is nearly cooked, warm up the turnip sauce and add the clams, along with enough of the remaining liquor to create a nice saucy, but not soupy, consistency
One minute before the pasta is cooked, drain it, add to the sauce and simmer gently. This allows the orecchiette to finish cooking in the sauce and allows them to absorb all the delicious flavours. The clams and turnips should nestle comfortably in the nooks of the orecchiette. Add the parsley and pour over the extra virgin olive oil
Serve in shallow bowls, making sure there's plenty of sauce in each one
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