Based on my wise number-ly calculations, I believe I’ve been reading [ahem..addicted to] food blogs for about 2 years now. One of my early favorites was Jenna Weber’s blog, Eat, Live, Run. It’s been fun to see her hone her photography and writing styles over the years and it’s been a journey I’ve loved following as a reader.
When Jenna came out with her first book, White Jacket Required, it was pre-ordered and subsequently devoured upon its arrival. The books shares Jenna’s journey from college to today – how she learned where her true passions lay
Jenna’s from the South so I wasn’t surprised to see her south-east-centric book tour locales once they were scheduled. Despite not visiting Nashville [Jenna, you should still plan a visit! Our food scene is delicious and there’s lots of great shopping to do, too!], she made it over to Birmingham which is only a 3-ish hour drive away. Given that one of my dear friends, Annie [who blogs some deliciously delectable treats at Tennessee Sugar], knows Birmingham well and knew a place we could crash for the night, the two of us decided to make it a girls-only road trip. [The fact that she’s also a Mumford + Sons fan and the new album just came out that week made sure we weren’t hurting for road trip tunes.]
I predictably became the star-struck babbling fan when Annie + I finally got to meet Jenna and have our books signed. As you might have guessed, she was incredibly sweet and she + her mother were stunned to learn that Annie and I made the trip to B’ham from Nashville just for her signing.
One of the best things about Jenna’s book is the fact that every chapter ends with a recipe. My favorite dish of hers [which is also my favorite to order at any Italian restaurant with it on the menu] is her linguine with clams [Julie from The Little Kitchen recently posted a version of the recipe that’s published in the book]. I don’t know why, but I’ve never made it for myself at home. Which honestly, is pretty silly, given that the quality you can find in canned clams is pretty perfect for this salty + cheesy pasta dish.
So, inspired by Jenna’s recipe, I decided to take a spin from the standard linguine with clams with a nod to Manhattan Clam Chowder. Fire roasted tomatoes, diced potatoes and plenty of bacon and clams make this quite a hearty meal. Add a big green salad on the side and you’ve got a perfect weeknight meal thanks to the chop, dump + stir method.
Are you an order-your-favorite-dish at new restaurants kind of person, or do you let the moment decide what you’ll have at a new place?
Manhattan Clam Chowder Pasta
Prep Time : 15 minutes Cook Time : 30 minutes Yield : 4 entree-sized servings
16 oz. uncooked pasta [long hearty noodles preferred, to stand up to the chunky sauce]
2 stalks celery, chopped [yield : 3/4 cup]
2 long carrots, peeled + chopped [yield : 3/4 cup]
1 small yellow onion, diced [yield : 3/4 cup]
2 large garlic cloves, minced
3/4 lb small red skinned or yellow potatoes, bite-sized dice [yield : 2 cups]
1 TBSP unsalted butter
2 slices bacon, chopped [yield : 1/2 cup]
2 6.5 oz cans clams [drained + 1/2 cup juice reserved]
1 14 oz can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
salt + fresh ground black pepper to taste
1/4-1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 bay leaf
3 stems fresh thyme
chives, to serve
1. Cook pasta according to package directions, until al dente. While pasta water is coming to a boil and pasta is then cooking, following the rest of the directions.
2. In a large skillet, cook bacon till just crisp. Remove from pan with slotted spoon onto a paper-towel lined plate and drain bacon fat, leaving just enough to coat the bottom of the pan.
3. Add potatoes with salt and pepper, to taste, and 1 TBSP unsalted butter. Fry, stirring continuously, until crisp and brown [about 20 minutes]. Remove potatoes onto plate with bacon.
4. Add remaining 1 TBSP butter, carrots, celery and onions to pan. Add garlic when onions just turn translucent.
5. Return potatoes and bacon to pan, season + spice to taste. Add clams and fire roasted tomatoes. Let sauce simmer for 5 minutes. If you’d like a thinner pasta sauce, add up to 1/2 cup reserved clam juice to your preference.
6. Plate pasta and top with clam chowder sauce. Serve with snipped chives, and enjoy!