September Staples-Pasta with Sage Clam Sauce

Like some of you, I spend some time each month with BON APPETIT, GOURMET, FOOD AND WINE, etc. I actually have a terrible time letting go of old copies, kind of like some folks with their NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC stash. As I straightened out my office yesterday, I found a stack of November and December cooking magazines from the last few years. No, they did not make it to Good Will. Hoarder. When holidays roll, I take them all out and look at them (and the current issues) to dream of menu possibilities and fill a basket in the living room with the bounty of years’ worth of Thanksgiving and Christmas recipes.

Well, this month’s BON APPETIT is jam-packed full of great ideas. Pick it up if you don’t have a subscription. Somewhere in that issue, there is reference to making meals for a week (or two) out of what’s in the pantry and the frig… at least mostly. Giving the grocery and your bank account a rest. Cleaning out the shelves. At this time of year, I am all over that; I’m ready to clear out my garage pantry to make sure last year’s candied fruit doesn’t go in this year’s fruit cake and to pitch last year’s pintos in favor of the fresh ones ready soon at Rocky Ford. It’s also a good time to fill up a bag or two for the local food pantry, whose shelves are full come Thanksgiving and Christmas, but often suffers from shortages as school starts. You won’t use four jars of jelly before the expiration date, but someone else might.

I’ve been home from San Francisco and the Bay Area (also Napa) for a couple of days, but those have been taken up with a sick puppy, who somehow tore a huge gash in her leg playing ball outdoors. (Gab is recovering nicely, thanks.) Anyway, the grocery store and I have not yet met this week and I’m reduced to delivery or something from the pantry. Favorite delivery place did not answer (help!!!), so it definitely was the pantry. Canned pumpkin and Progresso soup aside, the canned clams and Cento tomatoes immediately caught my eye as I poured over the pics from the trip.

Here are a few favorite, dreaming trip pics:

Zin grapes from Tres Sobores (Rutherford)…

Not quite ready for crush…………Two more weeks of Napa sun

Old vine……………mmmmmm

——————-Over 100 degrees…a tad warm for vinyard walking

New Napa friends…

We spent a warm day, even for Napa; the wines were worth it. Visits this trip were to

Tres Sabores
Chase Vinyards
Terra Valentine
Fisher Vinyards

There were soft, rambunctious, outrageous, flamboyant and creative wines everywhere we went, but Fisher was the standout. I may have fallen just a little bit in love with the owner, that might have done it. (Just talk wine, honey!) More on the wine another post; it won’t arrive at home for a while (until the weather cools.) Many loving thanks to friend, Rick, who picked places we visited. What a job he did! What wine is on the way! Some for now; some for later; one special bottle for a friend whose wife is about to have a baby. The idea is to save it for the child’s 21st birthday; it could happen.

Sunday, we had an over the top visit with family and spent a soft, breezy afternoon in their back yard….Bay area..the backyard was the family room!
Cooked, visited, played catch, drank some Napa Chardonnay, did it all again.

World famous Moraga chef, Brad Morgan and son Nicolas

Dinner tonight (back home–boohoo) was a pick-up affair, after that trip. Didn’t stop it from being delicious and perfect for the late summer moment:

——–Veg cooking down in saute pan–the start of the sauce

Pasta with Sage Clam Sauce
serves 4

3/4-1 # spaghetti or linguine
sprig fresh sage (opt)
2T olive oil
1 small red onion, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 leek (white only), minced
2 stalks celery, minced
1 carrot, minced
5-8 small, fresh leaves of sage (or 1t dry), shredded or chiffonade
1/4 t red pepper flakes
1 28oz can Cento tomatoes
1/2 cup white wine (or chicken stock)
1 10 oz can Baby Clams
Kosher Salt/Freshly-ground black pepper

1/4 c freshly grated Parmesan cheese
(see below for pantry notes)

Set to boil 6qts water in 8-10qt stock pot. Add 1t Kosher salt, a few grinds of freshly-ground black pepper and a sprig of fresh sage, if you have it. Cook pasta as per directions on package and keep warm.

Meantime, heat to medium heat a 12-14″ saute pan and add 2T olive oil. Stir in onions, garlic, leeks, celery, carrot, sage and red pepper flakes. Cook until onions are tender. Add white wine and tomatoes, breaking up tomatoes. Cook five to ten minutes, stirring often. Lower heat and add clams. Heat through.

Season to taste with salt and pepper.

With tongs, place pasta in each bowl and top with sauce. Garnish with cheese.

Serve at once.
Wine: Sauvignon Blanc
Dessert: Skip it
Pantry notes: I happened to have the fresh vegetables in the recipe, but you surely could make this sauce with less of the fresh. For instance, if you had onions only and dried sage, the sauce would still be good. Even just garlic would work…just something to flavor those tomatoes. I buy Cento tomatoes in large quantities and always have dry pasta and arborio rice for risotto as well. My frig pantry is seldom without Parmesan or Pecorino Romano (less expensive, different flavor) because they are such stand-out flavor boosters.
I also keep a small jar of minced garlic in case I’m out of fresh or the fresh has sprouted those tiny green shoots.

Fast and furious; fun and famous………….
Make clam sauce soon. It’s done before the pasta. Light, filling, nutritious..
Did I say YUMMY?
What’s in your pantry?
–In memoriam–Sheila Lukins, co-author, SILVER PALATE COOKBOOK–
Recipe writer, developer, business woman and chef,
Owner of The Silver Palate, New York City, changer of American
women’s lives extraordinaire. Done and gone too soon———

Sing a new song,

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