Sunday, January 23, 2011

Clam pizza

I would call this Jamie Oliver-inspired, although it's not his recipe.

Whole wheat crust with:
pesto, cherrystone clams, navy beans, lemon slices, artichoke hearts, fresh parsley, parm flakes, pepper, olive oil - applied in that order. It kind of took a while to assemble.

What makes is Jamie-inspired is the addition of red pepper flakes, the more liberal use of olive oil, and the lemon slices with peel. I also was very generous with the parsley and the man is seemingly obsessed with fresh herbs. But when I saw him make clam pizza he used a slightly different recipe. And he put whole clams on there!

The pizza was also inspired by the new products display at Trader Joe's. They had whole cherrystone clams in cans. I bought 3.

What makes is a very Jenna pizza is:
-whole wheat crust of course
-using up leftover bits in my fridge - in this instance parsley-walnut pesto and two big artichoke hearts as well as half a lemon (i could have easily used a whole lemon)
-added navy beans to make the pizza have more fiber and protein and have a keep the crust to topping ratio weighted more towards the topping side.

Here are my take-aways.


iPhone there for size comparison:
notice how big clams are
The few Jamie inspirations really did kick it up a notch. I think using a bit more olive oil made all the difference. It made all the ingredients really gel together and the flavors fuse. Quite literally - flavors travel in fat molecules and I have made this pizza while being more stingy with the olive oil and it tastes like disparate parts. It may also have had to do with the pesto base, even though it was a thin spread. I didn't go nutso with the oil - it was probably 3-4 tablespoons for the whole thing as opposed to 2. But the pizza has very little cheese on it as I really don't like melted cheese with seafood. Gross. The parm is tangy but not gooey.

I'm not a fan of spicy foods - they often give me a headache. But I know a little heat is meant to also enhance other flavors and in this instance the bit of dried red pepper flakes did just that. Jamie would have used fresh hot chili of course. Same is true of the parsley - it just added to an overall flavorful-ness and interest in the mouth.

I really should invest in a pizza stone.
This pan is an embarrassment. 
First, hats off to Trader Joe's. I believe the big whole clams made the whole thing more sophisticated. Kind of strange to say anything in a can is sophisticated but I guess it's all relative. The navy beans were a great enhancement - not just a bit of heft and health, they were creamy and delicious against the chewy clams. Additionally, the artichoke hearts were really finely chopped up and spread out. I think the helped a lot - they made the whole thing (to make up a word) a good way. And finally - I loved having the bits of roasted lemon. I picked off the actual pieces but squeezed them before eating each slice. If I were serving this at a party I would also serve fresh slices and additional parsley on each plate as garnish. The brightness was fantastic. Jamie would have doused the whole thing in more olive oil at the table. He seems to do that. I found it just greasy enough as is.

My main take-away, more than anything else, is to extoll the virtues of watching cooking videos - either on television, Hulu, YouTube, Netflix, whatever. I almost never make the recipes from the shows, but bits of information and techniques do sink in. Ideas percolate that were inspired by something I've seen but were not an exact recipe. And I believe that being familiar with those techniques and ideas also breeds confidence in the kitchen and a proclivity to experiment. My husband certainly appreciates it...the kids - I'm not so sure.

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