Spaghetti with clams is a classic and for a good reason: When done right, it’s a dish that is rich with nostalgia for anyone who has enjoyed summer days by the sea. (It also has been part of my repertoire longer than almost any other dish, since I first learned to cook it at the Sea Loft, where I worked when I was 16.) Pairing the clams with gnocchi instead of spaghetti ups the ante because you can get that much more intensity of flavor in each bite by spearing a clam and a similarly sized dumpling together, as well as creating a really interesting texture and mouthfeel. And gnocchi, unlike other fresh pasta doughs, doesn’t need to rest in the refrigerator overnight, so you can prepare and enjoy this dish immediately after you’ve finished making the dough. *

SERVES 6 TO 8

1⁄2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus additional to taste
10 cloves garlic, 4 cloves smashed and 6 cloves thinly sliced
2 shallots, thinly sliced
1 sprig thyme
11⁄2 teaspoons crushed red pepper
5 pounds manila clams, washed
1 cup dry white wine
6 green onions, light green and white parts only, thinly sliced Kosher salt
1 recipe Gnocchi
1⁄4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 teaspoons toasted breadcrumbs (recipe included)

1. Heat 1⁄4 cup of the olive oil in a large sauté pan with a lid over medium-high heat. Add the smashed garlic and the shallots and sweat them for 8 minutes, stirring continuously to prevent them from browning.

2. Add the thyme and 1 teaspoon of the crushed red pepper, then the clams. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes then deglaze the pan with the white wine, scraping up any brown bits from the bottom. Cover the pan and steam until the clams open, 5 to 7 minutes. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve, reserving the cooking liquid (set aside 1⁄2 cup of the clam cooking liquid for later). Pick the clam meat from the shells, discarding any clams that have not opened, and reserve the meat in the remaining cooking liquid while you prepare the pasta

10 cloves garlic, 4 cloves smashed and 6 cloves thinly sliced
2 shallots, thinly sliced
1 sprig thyme
11⁄2 teaspoons crushed red pepper
5 pounds manila clams, washed
1 cup dry white wine
6 green onions, light green and white parts only, thinly sliced
Kosher salt
1 recipe Gnocchi
1⁄4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 teaspoons toasted breadcrumbs (recipe included)

1. Heat 1⁄4 cup of the olive oil in a large sauté pan with a lid over medium-high heat. Add the smashed garlic and the shallots and sweat them for 8 minutes, stirring continuously to prevent them from browning.

2. Add the thyme and 1 teaspoon of the crushed red pepper, then the clams. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes then deglaze the pan with the white wine, scraping up any brown bits from the bottom. Cover the pan and steam until the clams open, 5 to 7 minutes. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve, reserving the cooking liquid (set aside 1⁄2 cup of the clam cooking liquid for later). Pick the clam meat from the shells, discarding any clams that have not opened, and reserve the meat in the remaining cooking liquid while you prepare the pasta.

3. Bring a pot of heavily salted water to a boil. (The water should have the salinity of broth.)

4. While you wait for the water to boil, put the sliced garlic, the remaining 1⁄2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, and the green onions in the same sauté pan you cooked the clams in. Add the remaining 1⁄4 cup olive oil, and cook until the green onions have wilted and the garlic is lightly browned. Deglaze the pan with the reserved 1⁄2 cup clam cooking liquid.

5. When the water has boiled, add the gnocchi and cook for 3 minutes. Remove about 1⁄2 cup of the cooking water, then drain the gnocchi. (Do not rinse it.) Add the gnocchi and clams to the pan, along with about 1⁄4 cup of the pasta cooking water, and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, stir- ring constantly, until the gnocchi and clams are warmed through. (Add some of the reserved pasta water to emulsify the oil and starch, if needed.) Remove from heat, stir in the parsley, and season with salt to taste. Top with the bread- crumbs, or serve with the breadcrumbs on the side.

GNOCCHI
MAKES 6 PORTIONS

1 3⁄4 pounds Idaho potatoes, peels on
Kosher salt
2 egg yolks, from large eggs
1 1⁄3 cups double zero flour, plus extra to work the dough

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

2. Prick the potatoes a few times around the surface area with a fork and bake for about 1 hour, until cooked through.

3. Cut the potatoes in half crosswise and push them through a tamis or ricer into a mixing bowl. (Do not use a food mill—it will break up the starches and make the pota- toes very gummy.) Season with salt and set aside.

3. In a small bowl, mix the egg yolks with a little bit of salt. Sift the flour over the potatoes and mix in the flour gently with your hands by lifting the riced potatoes then letting the pieces fall through your fingers. Drizzle the egg yolk mixture over the top and mix it into dough, then knead briefly until evenly combined.

4. Roll the dough into logs that are a manageable length to work with. Pick out one piece of dough and cover the rest with a kitchen towel. Roll the first piece out to approximately 1⁄2 inch in diameter, then cut the dough into individual pieces about 1 inch long.

5. To shape, place one piece of cut gnocchi dough on a clean counter and, using a fork, roll the dough down the back side of the fork, starting from the top of the tines, to create a rolled, ridged shape. (You can also shape with a gnocchi board, using the same technique.) Place the finished gnocchi on a floured cookie sheet as you go. Repeat until all the dough has been cut and shaped.

6. The gnocchi can be cooked immediately, or placed on a cookie sheet and frozen until firm, then transferred to a ziptight bag and returned to the freezer.

TOASTED BREADCRUMBS

1 cup panko
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1⁄4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt

1. Combine the panko, crushed red pepper, olive oil, and salt to taste in a saucepan and sauté until golden brown, continuously stirring or tossing for 6 to 8 minutes. (Watch the pan carefully as you sauté so you can remove the breadcrumbs as soon as they are golden.)

From Peace, Love, and Pasta: Simple and Elegant Recipes from a Chef’s Home Kitchen by Scott Conant. Photography by Ken Goodman