Artichokes and Clams: Taste of Navarra, Spain
Navarre is the vegetable capital of the world. Ferrán Adriá.
The geographical diversity from the foothills of the Pyrenees to sunny banks in the south of the region, provide fertile grounds for plentiful fresh produce. In Spain, it is easy to find smaller baby artichokes that are far more tender, tastier and easier to cook. Artichoke is perhaps Spain’s best-loved vegetable. Fresh baby artichokes have a sweet, earthy flavor and a meaty texture, and are delicious with roasted garlic and salty Serrano ham.
Artichokes with clams (Alcachofas con Almejas) is a popular dish in Navarra and it is easy to make at home.
Pick the freshest artichokes by squeezing the leaves--really fresh artichokes will squeak when you squeeze the leaves together. Cut off the stems, snap off a few outer leaves and cut the artichokes in quarters. Keep the cut leaves in lemon water to keep them from turning brown. If cooking artichokes is too intimidating, frozen ones work just as well.
Inspect the clams and gently tap any clams with open shells against the counter top. Discard the ones that do not close their shells within a few minutes or that have cracked or chipped shells. Before cooking the clams, soak them in fresh water for 30 minutes. Doing that makes the clams push salt water and sand out of their shells.
- 20 artichoke hearts, fresh or frozen
- 40 clams
- 4 oz Serrano ham, cut into stripes
- 2 medium onions, cut into stripes
- 6 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
- 1 tbsp flour
- 2 tbsp of wine
- 2 tbsp of fish stock or clam juice
- Olive oil for sautéing
Wash the clams and soak in cold water for 30 minutes.
If using fresh artichokes, remove the outer leaves until you reach the tender heart. Cut the heart into two. Cook the artichokes in salted boiling water and lemon juice. After 30 minutes, check for doneness – you should be able to pull out a leaf easily.
Stir fry the onion and garlic until golden and transparent.
Add Jamón Serrano strips and clams to the pan.
When the clams are open, add a tablespoon of flour and then the wine and the stock.
Add the artichokes and cook a couple of minutes.
Garnish with some fresh cut parsley and serve with a glass of Rioja. Enjoy!