Spaghetti with clams — or spaghetti alle vongole to the Italians — is one of my favorite dishes: simple, flavorful and satisfying.
But I wanted an alternative to white-flour spaghetti, so I chose barley.
But it takes too long to cook.
I cook barley the way I cook pasta — in an abundance of boiling, lightly salted water.
Don’t worry about measuring.
Fresh fennel and cherry tomatoes take this recipe in a Mediterranean direction.
But you can leave the fennel out or replace it with celery or leeks.
Finally, garnish with sautéed breadcrumbs.
Barley With Clam Sauce
3 tbls. breadcrumbs, preferably Italian-style
2 tbls. plus 1 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 cup finely chopped yellow onion
11/2 cups medium chopped fresh fennel
1 tbl. minced garlic
1 tsp. red pepper flakes
1/2 cup dry white wine
11/2 cups cherry tomatoes
3 dozen littleneck clams, scrubbed well
3 cups cooked pearl barley
1⁄3 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1. In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine breadcrumbs and 1 teaspoon of oil. Cook, stirring constantly, until golden brown, about 2-3 minutes. Set aside to cool.
2. Meanwhile, in a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil. Add onion and fennel, reduce heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.
3. Add wine, tomatoes and clams, cover tightly and increase heat to high. Cook for 5-7 minutes, checking now and again and transferring the clams as they open to a bowl. Discard clams that don’t open.
4. Add the barley to the clam liquid left in the saucepan and heat over medium, stirring, for 3 minutes. Return clams to the pan and cook, stirring, until they are heated through.
5. Ladle the mixture into four pasta or soup bowls and top each portion with a quarter of the sauteed breadcrumbs and parsley.
Nutrition information per serving: 400 calories (90 calories from fat — 23 percent of total calories); 10 grams fat (1.5 grams saturated; 0 gram trans fats); 45 mg cholesterol; 50 grams carbohydrate (7 grams fiber; 4 grams sugar); 22 grams protein; 240 mg sodium.