This is my favorite recipe once summer comes along. We first had this when we rented a beach house two summers ago. And now, whenever I make it, it marks the official start of summer. It comes from one of my favorite magazines, Food Network Magazine: Sausage and Clams with Polenta. Below, is the recipe from the Food Network, with my own picture and tips in **italics.
- 1 cup instant polenta **I use the tube kind – its easy to use – just put in a bowl, microwave and add milk to desired consistency.
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 4 cloves garlic, sliced
- 1 bunch broccoli rabe, florets chopped, or 1/2 head escarole, chopped **I use spinach, just because its easier to find
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- 3/4 pound hot or sweet Italian sausages, cut into chunks **For a healthier version, I use sweet turkey sausage from the green market here in Tribeca.
- 1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
- 3/4 cup dry white wine
- 16 littleneck clams, scrubbed **I have finally mastered how to buy clams: Buy clams right before you cook them, otherwise they die. Ask the fish monger to put some ice in a sealed plastic bag and put them with the clams. Place the clams and the ice in one of those cooler bags with the top open so the clams can breath. Go directly home and put them and the plastic bag full of ice in the fridge.
- Chopped fresh parsley, for topping (optional)
Cook the polenta per the instructions and keep warm.
In the meantime, heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the garlic and spinach or whatever greens you choose and season with salt and pepper and cook until the green is slightly tender, about 6 minutes, then transfer to a plate. Add the sausage to the pot and cook until just brown, breaking it up with a wooden spoon for about 5 minutes. Add the grape tomatoes and cook until soft, about 2 minutes. Add the wine, bring to a boil and then cook 3 minutes.
Add the clams; cover and cook over medium-high heat until the clams open, (discard any that do not open). For me, this part of the cooking process can take anywhere between 7 minutes and 15 minutes, depending on when the clams open up, so continue to check the clams. Return the greens to the pot and season with salt and pepper (optional). Divide the polenta among bowls and top with the sausage-clam mixture and cooking liquid. Sprinkle with parsley, if desired. This is also good with some pasta if you don’t have polenta.
Enjoy and welcome summer!