A Saturday treat



Clams are much more expensive than mussels, but I love their sweet flavour so occasionally Lo Jardinièr and I treat ourselves to some from the coquillage van that brings them, along with oysters and mussels, to the village on Saturday mornings straight from the Etang de Thau at Bouzigues. We had some black squid-ink spaghetti so we cooked that while the clams opened slowly in a wide pan with just a little olive oil. When they were all open I added a few tablespoons of crème fraiche and some chopped oregano and garlic to the pan, mixed it well with the juices from the clams and added it all to the pasta. It took about ten minutes to make for lunch….

clams-2and serve with a glass of Viognier white wine made in the village.



What a treat!


For supper last night:


500 grams palourdes (clams), fresh from the Bassin de Thau at Bouzigues and brought to the village by the producer, cleaned and cooked in a wide pan with a little olive oil until they’d all opened, when I added some chopped garlic and parsley, a glass of white wine and two tablespoons of crème fraiche. At the same time I cooked 250 grams of black squid-ink spaghetti, put the two together and there was a delicious fast-food supper!

Clams with squid ink pasta

These palourdes – clams – brought to our village by the producer straight from the Etang de Thau at Bouzigues are my favourite shell fish. Sweet and fresh, they are delicious cooked simply in their own juices, some olive oil and chopped parsley. Today though we had the happy coincidence of some black squid ink pasta and an abundance of tomatoes from the garden sharing space in our kitchen and asking to be added to the clams.

While the pasta was cooking, I lightly fried a sliced red pepper (fresh from the garden) with a large chopped garlic clove in some olive oil in a deep frying pan.  When the pepper had softened I added the cleaned clams and put the lid on until they began to open.  When they had all opened I added three skinned and chopped tomatoes, some chopped parsley and another chopped clove of garlic and brought it all to the boil again while I drained the pasta.

I mixed the clams and sauce into the pasta and served it all with a glass of red wine for me and a glass of rosé for Lo Jardinièr who declared this the best pasta dish he’d eaten since we were in Catalunya last year and enjoyed rossejat de fideos.

Clovisses (clams)

If you don’t like shell fish, look away now!  This morning, instead of our usual mussels, in fact as well as our usual mussels, I bought some clovisses, small clams.  It always amazes me how different and how pretty the shells are, so I took quite a few photos:


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clovisses 4

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Enough pretty pictures – what did I do with them?  I thought of spaghetti alle vongole and made a version of this classic Italian dish but with fideua, Spanish vermicelli pasta, instead of spaghetti.

clams with fideua 1

I cleaned and cooked the clams (half a kilo for two servings) in a wide deep pan in some olive oil and their own juices until all the shells had opened.  While these were cooking I boiled 150 grams of fideo (you could use spaghetti or other thin strands of pasta) in a litre and a half of salted water until it was al dente – just cooked with a little ‘bite’ to it.

clams with fideua 2

I drained the cooked clams (keeping the liquid in case I needed to add it to the sauce later), heated two chopped cloves of garlic, some chopped oregano and two teaspoons of tomato purée in a little olive oil in the pan, added a glass of white wine, returned the clams to the pan and brought it all the the boil.  After a couple of minutes I stirred in the cooked fideo and it was ready to eat, with a slice of lemon and a glass of wine.  The pasta soaks up a lot of liquid, so you can add some of the cooking liquid from the clams as well as the sauce.

clams with fideua 3

It’s not possible to eat this dish politely, you have to pick up the shells, bite out the clams and suck the sauce from them, as you eat the pasta with a fork.  It was wonderful!  And then there were the empties:


>Winter capers


Last autumn, Michelle at From Seed to Table in California very kindly sent me some caper seeds which I sowed, according to her instructions, and overwintered in a cold place (outside the bathroom window, which gets no sun at all in winter). In spring I brought them out into the warm, but not too hot, sun and waited for them to germinate. Four good plants were the result – two Tuscan and two Croatian – thanks, Michelle! Unfortunately, I had to leave them with a friend when I had to go away unexpectedly during the summer and they were left in a very windy place. Two of the plants did not survive this ‘holiday’ and, worse still, the survivors were taken out of the container identifying them, so I am not sure whether I now have one of each, or two of one variety or the other. But the good news is that these two survivors are looking very healthy – here they are enjoying the sun on the balcony today:

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I saved some of the seeds Michelle sent me last year and have sowed some more, which are now overwintering on the bathroom windowsill with some other seeds sent to me by another virtual friend, a blipper rather than a blogger this time, who lives in Tuscany.



On Saturday we bought these wonderful clams from the coquillage van and cooked them very simply, heating them in olive oil, chopped garlic and parsley until all the shells opened. The flavour was really delicious. It was a very cold morning and the man who sold them said that even the salt water was freezing in Bouzigues early in the day, which must mean that the temperature was minus 6 degrees C. Since then it has warmed up quite a lot, although it’s so clear today that I expect the temperature will drop near zero tonight.