Here’s a recipe to really fire up your taste buds. Being light and tangy its also perfect for summer. I first ate a version of this in an out of the way resturant in Amalfi. When we asked the Tourist Information office by the beach how to reach the restaurant she looked dubious and told me it was quite a hike up the hill. Certainly an exaggeration, but we did leave behind all the trinket shops and over-priced bars before reaching it, and found ourselves in a peaceful street quiet enough you could hear the water, which once fed several mills, gushing below the road.
Being Amalfi, I was determined to try everything with a hint of lemon. Before lunch we stopped at an exquisitely arranged greengrocer’s, more like an art exhibition, and I asked the owner about the mythical Amalfi lemon. She choose a knobbly, unendearing fruit from the pile, plunged her nail into the skin and held it out to me. The sweet, aromatic scent oozing out was worlds away from our bitter options in Britain.
You would assume a combination of sour lemons and bitter rocket would have you wincing unattractively throughout lunch, but the delicate sweetness of the Amalfi lemon ensures the flavours don’t overwhelm.
Ingredients: (for 4)
600g pasta (what is this nonsense about 100g per person?!) – I like using linguine but the restaurant in Amalfi used calamarata, the traditional pasta for this dish.
1 Amalfi lemon cut into julienne strips
1 clove garlic, chopped or crushed
10-15 clams per person
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Black pepper to taste
A lot of parmeggiano
While the pasta is boiling (with a little salt in the water) gently fry almost all the lemon strips and crushed garlic in olive oil (in a large pan) for about 30 seconds, don’t let the garlic go brown! Add the clams, cover the pan and cook over a low heat until they open. Make a bed of rocket leaves on each plate, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with parmeggiano.
Once the pasta is ready, drain and place into the pan of clams. Heat and mix thoroughly. Add a pinch black pepper if you wish. Divide between the plates, sprinkle over the remaining lemon strips and add a healthy helping of parmeggiano and more oil if needed. Buon appetito!