As always with our Cook the Book feature, we have five (5) copies of Rustic Italian Food to give away this week.
There's a certain drama that surrounds cooking en papillote. Unwrapping the parchment paper that holds your meal adds an air of excitement, something not too dissimilar to opening a gift. And that's precisely what's so appealing about Marc Vetri's Spaghetti in Parchment with Clams and Scallions from Rustic Italian Food.
In this recipe the pasta is cooked until very al dente, tossed with clams steamed with white wine, scallions, and chile flakes, and neatly wrapped into individual packages. Finished in the oven, the pasta within the parchment has a chance to really soak up that wonderful clam sauce, steaming together and allowing the flavors to meld beautifully.
Why you should make this: Dramatic presentation aside, baking the pasta in parchment allows the winey, clammy sauce to really soak into the pasta. And when you dig into your individual pasta packet, it's worth it alone for the incredible aroma.
Next time we might think about: We're loving the baking pasta in parchment technique and looking forward to try it out with different pasta-sauce combos.
Reprinted with permission from Rustic Italian Food by Marc Vetri, copyright © 2011. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House, Inc. Available wherever books are sold. All Rights Reserved.
Read more: Cook the Book: 'Rustic Italian Food'
- Yield:makes 4 servings
- Active time: 45 minutes
- Total time:45 minutes
- 1 pound refrigerated extruded spaghetti, or 12 ounces boxed dried spaghetti
- 8 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 scallions, trimmed and top quarter removed, sliced crosswise
- 4 cloves garlic, smashed
- 50 to 60 small clams, scrubbed
- 1/4 cup dry white wine
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 425ºF. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Drop in the pasta, quickly return to a boil, and cook until slightly underdone and chewy, 1 to 6 minutes, depending on how long it has been refrigerated (or 7 to 8 minutes for the boxed stuff). Drain the pasta, reserving the pasta water.
Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the scallions and garlic and cook until soft but not browned, about 3 minutes. Add the clams, wine, pepper flakes, and water. Cover and simmer until the liquid reduces in volume by about half, 5 minutes. When the clams have opened, discard the garlic and any empty clam shells.
Add the drained pasta to the pan along with the remaining 6 tablespoons olive oil and the parsley. Cook over medium heat, tossing until the sauce gets a little creamy.
Tear 4 sheets of parchment paper, each about 2 feet long. Place one-fourth of the pasta mixture in the center of each sheet of parchment. Bring the long sides of the parchment up above the pasta so the edges meet. Fold the edges together and keep folding down until tight over the pasta. Flip over and pull each side of parchment over the center to make a tight packet. Flip back over so the folded seam side is up.
Transfer the packets to a baking sheet and bake until the paper browns lightly, 5 to 7 minutes. If you have convection, turn it on to help the paper brown. Transfer to plates and allow guests to slit open the packets lengthwise with a knife.