I've eaten my fair share of vegetable "pastas" in the past. While slivered carrots and zucchini are not necessarily a bad thing, they're not a true substitute for their starchier cousins. In Try This at Home, Richard Blais's has a number of what he calls "impastas," including this Potato "Linguine" with Conch and White Wine.
Most of the impastas are in the "I-wouldn't-mistake-this-for-pasta-any-day" camp, however, the potato "linguine" stands out. He first made the dish on Top Chef Masters (those viewers among us will probably remember the chef-testants doing their best to look cool cooking in bathing suits) and appeared to fool the judges into thinking that the potatoes were indeed freshly made pasta. Russet potatoes make ideal pasta substitutes, as they are mild in flavor and high in starch. Mingled with chopped conch (or clams), parsley, oregano, and bread crumbs, this "linguine" is more than just a substitute for pasta. It may not be better than the real thing, but it is certainly on par.
Why I picked this recipe: I'd never eaten al dente potato slivers before. Have you?
What worked: The potato "pasta" is seriously brilliant; its mild flavor was a fabulous backdrop for the briny clams and it contributed generous amounts of starch to the broth, making a creamy yet delicate sauce.
What didn't: Be sure to wait to peel and slice the potatoes until right before cooking so they don't oxidize too much.
Suggested tweaks: I couldn't find conch (where can you find conch? anyone?) so I used chopped shucked cherrystone clams. You'll need between 2 and 3 pounds of live ones if you're gonna shuck them yourself. You could use the potato pasta method for any number of simple sauces. I'm thinking a play on cacio e pepe or could be fun, or else a version with anchovies with lemon and chiles.
Reprinted from Try This at Home: Recipes from my head to your plate by Richard Blais. Copyright 2013. Published by Clarkston Potter. All rights reserved. Available wherever books are sold.
- Yield:serves 4
- Active time: 30 minutes
- Total time:30 minutes
- 3 large russet (baking) potatoes, peeled
- 1 1/2 cups chicken stock or store-bought low-sodium broth
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 pound fresh conch, minced, or 1 1/2 cups chopped shucked cherrystone or whole small white clams
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon finely minced jarred brined Calabrian chiles or red pepper flakes
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1/4 cup dry white wine
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- Grated zest and juice of 1/2 lemon
- 1/2 cup Toasted Herb Bread Crumbs, for garnish
Using a Japanese mandoline or a very sharp long knife, cut the potatoes lengthwise into long, thin sheets (as thin as possible—ideally, you should be able to see through them). Stack the slices a few at a time and cut them lengthwise into 1/4-inch-wide ribbons.
Pour the chicken stock into a large skillet and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Add the potatoes and butter and cook until the potatoes begin to absorb the stock, about 4 minutes. Add the conch, oregano, and chiles and cook until the potatoes are al dente and most of the stock is absorbed, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Pour in the wine and toss the potatoes gently until it evaporates. Stir in the parsley.
Divide the “linguine” among four warmed shallow bowls. Squeeze some lemon juice over each bowl and top with a sprinkling of bread crumbs. Serve immediately.