Orecchiette Tossed with Tender Whole Clams, Baby Spinach Leaves, Sliced Mushrooms,
Turkey Bacon & Touch of Lemon
Ingredients and Prep : 15 0z. bag of frozen whole cooked clam meat defrosted, rinsed and patted dry, 4-5 cups baby spinach leaves thoroughly rinsed and drained, 2 cups sliced mushrooms, 2-3 slices thick-cut turkey bacon, EVOO as desired, hot pepper flakes to taste, 1/4 tsp. margarine or butter, 1 medium lemon cut in half and 16 oz. orecchiette or any whole grain pasta, preferably.
Step 1: Cook turkey bacon in a nonstick skillet or in microwave according to package directions until crispy and stiff to the touch. Drain excess fat on paper towels and set aside. When cool, break up bacon into 1/2 inch pieces to be used later.
Step 2: In a saute’ pan placed over medium heat, lightly drizzle EVOO (just enough to coat pan and keep food from sticking). Once the oil is heated, add mushrooms and season with sea salt and black pepper as desired. Turn mushrooms over as they begin to brown around the edges and cook until brown golden brown on both sides. Approx. 3 minutes per side. Remove from pan and set aside.
Step 3: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta al dente according to package directions reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking water to be used later. Timing is important here. See TIP below.
Step 4: In a saute’ pan placed over medium heat, lightly drizzle EVOO (just enough to coat pan and keep food from sticking) and season with hot pepper flakes. Once the oil is heated, add spinach leaves. Season with fresh ground black pepper and sea salt to taste. Gently toss and remove from heat when slightly wilted, 2-3 minutes.
Step 5: Heat 1/2 tsp. EVOO in a large sauce pan over medium heat. Add a 1/4 tsp. of margarine or butter. Once oil is hot, add clams. I also added hot pepper flakes, to taste, here. Cut lemon in half and squeeze the juice sparingly over clams and to taste. Stir clams until fully heated. Add cooked pasta to clams and toss gently. Add reserved cooking water or EVOO as needed for a moist texture. Add bacon, spinach and mushrooms and gently fold into the pasta and clams to evenly distribute throughout the dish. Slice remaining half of lemon and use for garnish.
TIP: Time the cooking of pasta so that it doesn’t sit for more than a couple of minutes before incorporating into the clams in Step 5. Otherwise it will start to stick together. If needed, you can toss pasta with a small amount of EVOO to prevent sticking. Cooking spray may be used in place of EVOO throughout the recipe when sautéing vegetables and bacon. Be open to using your clean hands when adding the veggies and bacon so that you have more control on the distribution of ingredients. Eat with your eyes, too, and the dish will be even more satisfying. Be sure to use cookware that is large enough for the quantity you are cooking.