Tender, sweet Manila clams take only minutes to cook. Here, they’re augmented by fresh fennel, saffron and red pepper flakes for a sophisticated dish. Serve with crusty bread brushed with olive oil and sprinkled with black pepper.
Clams with White Beans, Fennel and Broccoli Rabe
1 fennel bulb, a few fronds reserved and minced for garnish
1/2 tsp. fennel seeds
1 Tbs. olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1/2 large red onion, finely chopped
1/4 to 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 can (14 1/2 oz.) cannellini beans, drained, juices reserved
1 bottle (8 fl. oz.) clam juice
Large pinch of saffron threads
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 small bunch broccoli rabe or Chinese broccoli, chopped
2 lb. Manila clams, rinsed
Coarse kosher salt, to taste (optional)
Cut the fennel bulb lengthwise into quarters and then slice the quarters crosswise. In a mortar or spice mill, coarsely grind the fennel seeds.
In a large nonstick fry pan over medium-high heat, warm the 1 Tbs. olive oil. Add the fennel bulb, fennel seeds, onion and red pepper flakes, and sauté until the fennel and onion start to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the wine and boil until it evaporates, about 1 minute. Add the drained beans, clam juice, saffron and a generous amount of black pepper, and simmer to blend the flavors, about 5 minutes. Add the broccoli rabe and simmer until it begins to wilt, about 1 minute. Add the clams. Stir in the reserved juices from the beans if the mixture is dry. Cover and boil until the clams open, about 5 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasonings, adding salt if needed. Discard any clams that failed to open.
Divide the clam mixture between 2 warmed deep bowls. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with fennel fronds and serve immediately. Serves 2.