clam and sausages baked

“You can blog about it.”

I’m sitting at Rita’s with my friend, Bea, bemoaning the day I’ve had vs. the day I’d planned. A swollen knee on the little boy meant a morning with doctors and radiologists. A 30-minute meeting that stretched 70 minutes long meant no time for the grocery store before school let out. A rescheduled activity for the big boy meant just enough downtime for a quick Italian ice, but no time to accomplish anything meaningful.

“So you have no bread,” Bea says. “No milk. You have air. You’ll make something. And you can blog about it.”

I love Bea. I met her 10 years ago at church. She’s lavish with love, judicious with advice and never makes me feel stupid. Even when she teases me about my cooking.

We finish our ices, and I run to get the big boy, drop him home, then head to the store. My plan is to grab some milk, some bread and something fast for dinner. Chicken, no doubt.

That’s when I see them … A bag of mahogany clams at the seafood counter.

Why do we always think chicken, pasta or takeout when we have no plan and need dinner fast? Why not turn to something a bit more exotic?

I did some quick mental math and decided dinner would be clams and sausages. Neither would take long to make, and my grocer had fat, lovely links of Italian sausage on sale. I’d serve them on a bed of broccoli rabe for a well-rounded meal in just one dish.

I got home, set the clams on ice in the fridge and got cracking. I prepped the rabe, picked some herbs from the garden, minced up some garlic and zested a lemon. I simmered the sausages, then browned them in oil; tossed the clams in the cooking liquid and threw them in a screaming hot oven with a generous splash of white wine. Everything was done after less than an hour of work.

“This is different!” the husband enthused — happy, no doubt, for a break from chicken and pasta.

So thank you, Bea. I still don’t have any milk or bread. But I got dinner on my table.

And I blogged about it.

Roasted Clams With Sausage & Broccoli Rabe

clam dinner

I made this dish with hot Italian sausage, which was almost too spicy. We’ll do it again with mild or sweet. You could sub chicken or turkey sausages for the pork sausage — or omit the meat completely.

I served the ample pan juices separately, with lots of crusty bread. I’ll use the leftover juices tonight … with chicken or pasta, no doubt!

  • 1 bunch broccoli rabe
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 pound Italian sausage (I used Logan’s Hot Italian Sausage)
  • 1 bag clams, rinsed in cold water (discard any clams that are already open)
  • 1/4 cup assorted fresh herbs, finely chopped (I used basil, oregano, rosemary and thyme)
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 1/3-1/2 cup fruity white wine (I used Viognier for its effervescence and lemony taste)

Preheat oven to 500 degrees.

Chop about 3 inches off the stems of the broccoli rabe. Place in a large saute pan of boiling, salted water. Boil for 8 minutes, then drain. Set aside.

Fill same pan with 1 to 2 inches of water. Prick sausages all over with a fork, then place in pan. Cover and bring water to a boil. Simmer 10-15 minutes, or until sausages are done. (I cut them in half to check.)

clam sausages cooking
Hot Italian sausages simmer in boiling water to cook.

Drain water from pan. Add 2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil (enough to generously coat the pan’s bottom) and heat. Add sausages and cook until nice and brown.

Remove sausages, keeping oil in the pan. Return to heat and add clams. Toss briefly, then add wine. Place in oven and roast until clams are open, 15-18 minutes.

clams in pan for oven
Clams are tossed in oil and wine before going into a 500-degree oven.

While clams roast, heat 1-2 tablespoons olive oil in another saute pan. Add minced garlic and saute for 30 seconds. Add broccoli rabe, salt and pepper and saute until hot. Take off heat and cover to keep warm.

clam rabe
Broccoli rabe loses its bitter bite when boiled then sauteed with garlic.

When clams are open, remove from oven. Discard any that have remained closed. Add herbs and lemon zest. Add sausages.

clam and sausages on platePlace broccoli rabe on a plate. Top with clams and sausages and a bit of the pan juices. Pour remaining pan juices into a bowl. Serve with crusty bread.