A few days ago, I noticed my body was absolutely screaming for some seafood and vegetables. And while I don’t really buy into the whole “intuitive eating” concept – sometimes my “intuition” is toddler-esque and wants to eat ice cream for dinner, and I have to say no to myself; and then of course, as any parent of a toddler does, try to ignore the ensuing anger, pouting and tears. But when my body yelps for something light and healthy, I do listen up.
Amidst all the holiday baking and heavier foods of the current season, I’ve been made aware of the need to balance it all out with some lighter fare. I’m going to take how wonderful this meal tasted, plus the way I was absolutely HORFING an arugula salad last night as confirmation that I did the right thing.
There is some wintry richness to this dish, but it’s really balanced. And just wonderfully delicious. There’s all the flavors and textures your palate could possibly want in one bowl. Briny and chewy clams, salty, crunchy bacon, sweet softness from the parsnips, and fatty richness from the cream base all come together for the perfect bite.
And if this isn’t enough to convince you, let me also say that this is the ideal weeknight meal, especially for this busy time. It comes together very quickly – the longest time-suck is roasting the parsnips, and that is mostly hands off and can be done days before. The rest comes together in one pot and very fast. Oh and if you can’t find Viognier wine, just sub in a dry Reisling. Enjoy!
Source: slightly adapted from Food & Wine Magazine, October 2006
½ lb. parsnips, peeled
2 tbs olive oil
Kosher salt and black pepper
3 oz. thickly sliced bacon, chopped
¾ cup Viognier
1 tbs unsalted butter
1 small shallot, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
2 dozen littleneck clams, scrubbed and rinsed
½ cup heavy cream
1 tbs snipped chives
Oyster crackers, for garnish
Preheat your oven to 350 F. Cut your parsnips in half crosswise, so you have skinny pieces and fatter pieces. Cut the skinny pieces in half once lengthwise and quarter the fatter pieces lengthwise. Place the parsnips on a baking sheet and toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Roast the parsnips, turning once or twice, until tender, about 15-20 minutes. Let cool slightly, then slice them across ¼-inch thick. Set aside.
Meanwhile, in a deep skillet, cook the bacon over medium-high heat until well browned and crisp, about 6 minutes. Remove the bacon strips with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.
Add the Voignier, butter, shallots, and garlic to the skillet over medium heat. Add the clams and turn the heat to high. Cover the pot and cook until they open, 6 to 8 minutes. Use tongs to transfer each clam to a large bowl as they open.
Add the cream to the clam broth in the skillet. Boil until reduced by half, a couple of minutes. Add the roasted parsnips, bacon, chives, and the cooked clams in their shells to the skillet. Season generously with black pepper.
To serve, spoon into shallow bowls and garnish with oyster crackers. Serve immediately.
Serves 2-3 people.