Winter Seafood Pasta and a Discovery

For years now I buy my supplies at the weekly farmer’s market, only buying what I really can’t get there from supermarkets and big stores. Saves time and nerves and goes with my conviction, namely distrust anything that’s overly inflated. Given, and I’m lucky enough to have an excellent fishmonger at the market, the other day he had a satchel of cockles, and it’s February and cold, now what’s better than a culinary excursion to the seaside by making a pot of steaming homemade spaghetti vongole. We ate it with a glass of chilled white bordeaux, feeling rather elated in the afternoon.

Apparently, this little culinary travel gave us the wanderlust alright and as we had absolutely no plans that day, we decided to just hit the road and drive out along the little silver stream we see each day from our windows, finding out where it springs. It’s an absolutely picturesque drive, and we decided to drive on given the weather was just beautiful. When left the winding road and reached a wide plane we became aware of a curious town built on a steep hill at the horizon, glinting in the late afternoon sun as if this was the dwelling place of a fairytale king. Of course we had to see, and what a marvellous place we discovered! Little winding streets and the most gorgeous old houses, surrounded by a forest of lime trees growing over a maze of what once upon a time was houses and streets public buildings, all reduced to stones and moss and a carpet of snowdrops. Pure magic.

Sometimes it doesn’t need much to get one away from everyday. A plate of homemade spaghetti, an afternoon off and a heart for the little adventures waiting at one’s doorstep. I can give you but the first of the three ingredients, trusting the gods will benignly provide the latter two.

What you’ll need

  • A nice ball of homemade pasta dough, the recipe is in one of my older blogposts, see here. Ideally the dough should be prepared on the day before.
  • Olive oil
  • A small onion, chopped
  • One carrot, chopped
  • A small stick of celery, chopped
  • 2dl of dry white wine
  • A bag of cockles, about 250g per person
  • If available, parsley (I didn’t have any as we’re out of season)
  • White pepper
  • Salt
  • A piece of salty stout cheese, old cheddar, parmesan, sbrinz or aged comté

How to cook it

Fill a big wide pot with water and put on the heat, this one is for boiling the pasta.

In another big white pot, glaze the vegetable in olive oil for a couple of minutes, start with the onions and when they turn glassy, add carrots and celery. Deglaze with white wine, cover with a lid and cook for five to ten minutes. Turn the heat to maximum and add the cockles in one go, put the lid back and cook for three minutes. Shake the pot so that the cockles open well. If they’re not fully open yet, continue cooking for another minute. Then add parsley and some ground white pepper and mix well.

In the meantime, salt the pasta water and add the spaghetti, cook for four minutes and fish out with the kitchen skimmer and add them to the cockles. Then pour a ladle of pasta water over and mix well, cook for another minute. Arrange in nice plates and offer those who like it hearty some grated cheese.

How to eat it

When the summer holiday on the beach is farthest while the longing strongest, and a glass of white bordeaux along, puts one’s spirits straight again.

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