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15-Minute Recipe: Steamed Clams With Basil-Cilantro Pesto

Clams give so much and ask so little. Just don’t overcook them. That’s about all you need to know to enjoy these bivalves at their plump and briny best.

At Henrietta Red in Nashville, chef Julia Sullivan has made shellfish a specialty. “Our clams are shipped in twice a week from a great producer out in Washington State,” she said. She does right by them with a fast steam over high heat, preserving the clams’ tenderness and catching their flavorful brine in a simple pan sauce.

In this version, her third Slow Food Fast recipe, Ms. Sullivan combines quick-cooked clams with diced tomatoes, fennel and white wine. “It’s summery and light,” she said—just the thing for this in-between season when the days are still warm but the nights are longer and a bit chillier. For a little added heat, toss in a couple of minced Fresno chiles.

A swirl of basil-cilantro pesto stirred in before serving makes a delicious sauce of the clams’ fragrant cooking broth, with a herbal edge and a bit of heft. Be sure to serve some crusty bread on the side to sop up every drop.


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