I used to run a writing workshop for the fifth-graders at our elementary school.


I always started the same way:

“Who likes writing?”

A few hands raised.

“Who hates writing?”

Hands everywhere.

“Why?” I’d ask. Then I’d join the chorus:

“It’s BORING!”

But wait. Here’s where I rocked their little worlds.

“Maybe it’s not writing that’s boring,” I’d tell them. “Maybe you’re just not interested in what you’re writing about.”

I thought of those workshops last night. Dinner bored me.

Actually, it made me downright sad. I’d planned to repurpose a grilled chicken from a few nights earlier: Toss it with tomatoes, goat cheese, oregano. Maybe serve it with pasta.

It just made me (and the rest of the family) sigh.

Then I stopped.

“Maybe it’s not the dinner that’s boring,” I thought. “Maybe I’m not interested in what I’m cooking.”

I looked at my pantry:

  • Tomatoes.
  • Some sausages.
  • A few chiles.
  • Tons of herbs from the garden.

clamsI checked our supermarket flyer to see what specials it was offering:

What about clams and sausages in a spicy tomato broth? Would that perk us up?

It did.

clams in broth

And dinner made us happy.

Happy Clams & Sausages

This comes together in about 30 minutes. Another reason to be happy!

  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 chile de Arbols, crumbled (Just use one if you want a subtler heat.)
  • 4 precooked sausages (I used chorizo and Italian-style chicken), thickly sliced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, minced
  • 6 medium tomatoes, coarsely chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • 1 bag clams
  • 1 cup fresh chopped herbs, loosely packed (I used equal parts basil and parsley)
  • Juice of half a lemon

clam onions & sausagesGlaze the bottom of a large saute pan with olive oil. Add the onion and chiles. Season with salt and pepper and saute over medium heat until translucent, about 5 minutes.

Increase the heat to medium-high and add the sausages. Saute another 5 minutes.

Add the garlic, rosemary and tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper, then saute for 2 minutes. Add the bay leaf and wine. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat and cover your pan. Simmer for 10 minutes, removing the cover the last 3 minutes and crushing the tomatoes with the back of a spoon.

clam tomatoes

While the sauce is simmering, rinse your clams. Carefully pick through them, discarding any that are open or have broken shells.

Place the clams in the sauce and stir. Cover your saute pan and cook for 5 minutes. Check to see if the clams have opened. If not, cook for an additional 5 minutes. Check again. I used mahogany clams, which are pretty large, so I needed 15 minutes for them to open.

Discard any clams that have refused to open. Add your chopped herbs and the lemon juice. Taste for seasoning.

Ladle into soup bowls and serve with crusty bread, if desired.

clam dish