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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.
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