Clam and Tomato Tray Bake
Updated: Aug 23, 2020
"You need an entire life just to know about tomatoes."
Ferran Adria (2011)
With the clam fishery now fully open and with tomato season now upon us, I had no hesitation in reaching for a recipe I've had my eye on for as long as I've owned the book, "Hugh's Three Good Things... on a Plate", which was when it was first published in 2012. I've said before, it's one of my top 10 cookbooks, very possibly in the top 5.
Although one of the simplest recipes on the blog to date this has so much potential for innovation, very much in the spirit of the book from whence it came. Thinking along the lines of Almejas a La Marinera it fits perfectly into a tapas-style meal and, with the introduction of some paprika and/or saffron, it would immediately adopt a Spanish character. Alternatively, as suggested in the book, served mingled with pasta such as linguine or tagliolini, there's a take on an Italian "alle vongole", perhaps with some torn basil in the mix (no Parmesan please!). Served just with bread, some variety could be introduced with alternative herbs such as rosemary, thyme, chervil, tarragon or chives. And by tipping in a can of white beans like haricots along with the clams, and perhaps some chilli flakes along with the garlic, you achieve a more substantial meal of the type you might find pretty much anywhere around the Med (see Alubias Blancas con Almejas for example).
And being a tray bake, washing up is kept to a minimum so even the plangeur/euse gets to enjoy!
As the summer progresses we are blessed with more and more varieties of tomatoes. Go mad with them, I say, use whatever variety or mix of variety you like. And with abundance comes inevitable gluts - this dish is perfect for using up that pile of softening, over-ripe tomatoes.
Multiply-up the quantities to fulfil your crowd's needs!
Clam and Tomato Tray Bake
Ingredients (Serves 2)
750-800g clams, cleaned
1-2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 or 2 garlic cloves, finely sliced
175-200g selection of tomatoes, cut into 1½" chunks
30ml white wine (2 tbsp)
A knob of butter
A handful of parsley, chopped for garnish
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 200°C. Load up a deep roasting tray with the tomatoes, scatter over the garlic slices and drizzle with the olive oil. Season, give the tray a shake then put it in the oven for 15-20 minutes, giving it a stir halfway through, until the tomatoes have started to develop brown edges.
Distribute the clams among the tomatoes keeping everything in a roughly uniform layer. Add the white wine, the knob of butter and a little more seasoning and return to the oven for a further 10 minutes or so, until most of the clams have opened (the remainder will either open in the residual heat, or will need to be discarded).
Garnish with the chopped parsley and serve straight from the roasting tray.
"Hugh's Three Good Things... on a Plate", Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall (2012), pp. 190: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Hughs-Three-Good-Things-Fearnley-Whittingstall/dp/1408828588