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A Classy (but not Fussy) Clam Dinner



Hello! Mia here, filling in for Melissa today and Monday. I hope your week has been sunny.

I love clams, but I don’t cook them enough. I’m not sure why. They’re a sustainable, year-round seafood option and are not too expensive. They’re also — let’s be honest here — kitchen comedy gold. It gives me a stupid amount of glee to click empty clamshells like tiny little castanets or give them a silly voice to talk to my dog. Cooking: It’s fun!

So I’m going to make Lidey Heuck’s new recipe for littleneck clams with cherry tomatoes and pearl couscous, the sort of dish I would seek out and order at a cute wine bar with mismatched plates and an impressive vermouth collection. Although it looks and feels a little fancy, Lidey’s recipe is weeknight-easy: a one-pot dish that simmers clams with garlic, white wine, shallots and tomatoes, making a briny broth for the pearl couscous or fregola to soak up. Add a hunk of your favorite bread and a tangle of arugula dressed with olive oil and lemon juice and there it is — a classy clam dinner. (At least until the castanets action happens.)

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I’ll stick with this “I should be cooking more of” theme and move on to the hot mustard powder hanging out in my spice drawer. It’s what gives this honey-glazed chicken recipe from Kay Chun its kick; as Kay notes, make a double batch of the glaze, as it’s also delicious on pork chops or shrimp.

I might also try stirring a pinch of mustard powder into the miso-vinegar mixture that dresses the tofu and asparagus in this refreshing vegan dish topped with crispy frizzled leeks. But a lot of readers rave that Ali Slagle’s recipe is perfect as is, so maybe I’ll save my mustard powder for these green beans instead.

Keema is one of my most favorite uses for ground meat, and I’ve made it with ground chicken, turkey and plant-based meat. Tejal Rao’s recipe calls for cooking the ground protein of your choice with garlic, ginger, green chile, caramelized onions and fresh tomatoes to form a rich, saucy gravy to spoon over rice or scoop up with chapatis or soft rolls. Every time I make it, I wonder why it’s not part of my weekly rotation; it’s so easy and comforting.

I would like to eat more poached eggs, but more often than not I’m too distracted or impatient to make a perfect, gently poached egg. So, a tip: Sue Li’s somen noodles with poached egg, bok choy and mushrooms are equally delicious with a six-minute egg in place of the poached one.

Finally, I would like to eat more cake, because sinking a fork through layers of frosting and cake is an instant mood-lifter. Dolester Miles’s coconut pecan cake, a recipe adapted by Kim Severson, is chock-full of coconut (shredded coconut, cream of coconut, coconut extract and coconut milk) and ground pecans, for a perfect sweet-nutty flavor balance. Trot this one out for birthdays, celebrations and special occasions: “I made this cake and it is absolutely the best cake and filling I’ve tasted in ages, if not ever,” writes Courtney, a reader.

One more one-pot recipe for you, this time from Ali: one-pot ginger salmon and rice, her take on takikomi gohan, or Japanese mixed rice. Torn-up sheets of toasted, seasoned nori (or gim) cook along with short-grain rice, losing their crispness but giving the rice deep oceanic flavor. The salmon and asparagus are added near the end so that both stay tender without overcooking. Garnish with extra nori, sliced scallions or cilantro for extra greenery.

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