Italian grandmothers may balk at the idea of cooking pasta directly in a sauce instead of in a separate ocean-sized pot of boiling water, but it's a great shortcut to extra flavor without the extra stove space, and can result in perfectly fine texture (see here for more on the science of low-water pasta). But there are a couple tricks you need to know.
First, you've got to make the sauce extra-saucy to account for the liquid the pasta is going to absorb as it cooks. In this recipe, you've got canned broth, along with some vinegar and a good amount of liquid exuded from Littleneck clams as they cook. Large shrimp or even mussels could be used in a pinch.
Secondly, you've got to make sure to add ingredients at the right time to make sure they don't overcook. I use shallots and hot peppers at the beginning to help them soften and season the broth, followed by corn and clams. Next, I add rice noodles—thin noodles that soften in minutes; Just about as long as it takes to finish cooking the clams. Snow peas and halved cherry tomatoes get added along with the noodles to retain some of their fresh, late-summer flavor.
Finally, a shot of Sriracha and soy sauce along with a squeeze of lime and chopped cilantro at the end give it a bit of an Asian flavor kick.
Note: To keep everything in one skillet, I cook the noodles directly in the skillet, but you can also prepare them according to the package instructions and add them to the skillet during the last 2 minutes of cooking.
- Yield:serves 3 to 4
- Active time: 30 minutes
- Total time:30 minutes
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 cup thinly sliced shallots
- 1 serrano pepper, thinly sliced
- Kosher salt
- 2 cups fresh corn kernels from 2 small ears corn
- 2 ½ cups low-sodium vegetable broth
- ¼ cup rice wine vinegar (more or less to taste)
- 24 littleneck clams, scrubbed
- 1 (8 oz) package thin rice noodles, broken into 4-inch pieces
- 2 cups snow peas, ends trimmed, cut into bite-sized pieces on the bias
- 1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce (more or less to taste)
- 1 tablespoon sriracha
- 1 cup fresh cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
- 1 lime, cut into wedges for serving
Add 2 tablespoons olive oil to a 12-inch skillet over high heat until shimmering. Lower the heat to medium high and add shallots, serrano, and a pinch of salt. Stir and cook until softened, about 4 minutes. Add corn and cook for 1 minute longer.
Add the broth, vinegar, and clams, and increase heat to high. Cook, stirring and shaking skillet occasionally until clams just begin to open. Add then noodles, snow peas, and tomatoes, ladling broth over the noodles to moisten them. Lower to a simmer, cover, and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the clams are completely open, and the noodles are soft, about 5 minutes longer. Discard any clams that do not open.
Add the soy sauce, sriracha, and cilantro, and stir to combine. Serve immediately with lime wedges.