Italians love leisurely multicourse meals, with a different wine served with each course. It's common to start the meal with seafood, such as this dish. It's impressive for guests, yet it's quick and simple to prepare.
24 littleneck, Manila, or cherrystone clams, scrubbed
1/4 cup dry breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh mint
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt or dash of table salt
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons extravirgin olive oil
How to Make It
Shuck clams, and discard top shells. Loosen meat from bottom shell, and arrange clams in shells on a jelly-roll pan.
Combine breadcrumbs and next 6 ingredients in a small bowl. Slowly add olive oil, tossing with a fork until well blended (crumb mixture should be moist but not soggy).
Spoon 1/2 teaspoon crumb mixture onto each clam. Broil 5 to 10 minutes or until crumbs are lightly brown and clams are just cooked through. Serve warm.
Fresh Clams: When purchasing clams, choose shells that are clamped tightly shut. If the shell moves easily, the clam is probably dead and unsafe to eat. Store clams in an open bowl in the refrigerator, and use them as soon as possible. Do not store clams in a sealed plastic bag or on ice because they will die. To shuck (open) clams, place them in the freezer for 15 to 30 minutes. After briefly freezing the clams, let them stand at room temperature a few minutes to relax. Working over a bowl or sink, hold the clam securely in one hand, and insert a clam knife into the opening of the shell between the top and bottom halves. You may want to protect your hand with a towel. If you don't have a clam knife, you may use a thin, short, dull knife. Never use a sharp kitchen knife. Using the blade of the knife, cut through the hinge muscle, and open the shell. Carefully slide the knife between the clam and the shell to detach the meat.