The inspiration for this meal came from some mid-19th century plates by Creil et Montereau. The detailed black and white drawings are by Charles Hamlet, featuring a series of women in Victorian bathing costumes.
There are twelve plates in the series; I’m still looking for two of them but was able to cobble together ten, more than enough for a table.
Impossible to resist, I eagerly planned the table, searching in my mind for a suitable dish to accompany these beauties.
Clearly, it had to be black and white!
The shrimp and parsley add a bit of colour, but I think we got there.
- 15 ml or 1 tbsp kosher salt
- 14 ml or 1 tbsp cornmeal
- 1–1½ kg or 2-3 lbs littleneck clams (about 24) or 1½ lbs pasta clams
- 454 g or 1 lb squid ink spaghetti or linguini
- 60 ml or 2 oz olive oil
- 15 ml or 1 tbsp chopped garlic
- 45 ml or 3 tbsp fresh lemon juice (from 1 large lemon)
- 237 ml or 1 c white wine
- 454 g or 1 lb large shrimp (about 20), shells removed, tails intact
- 454 g or 1 lb fresh calamari
- 15 g or ¼ c flat-leaf parsley leaves, coarsely chopped
- Fill the sink with 2 inches of cold water, kosher salt and cornmeal. Soak the clams for about 10 minutes to remove any sand or grit. Rinse and drain the clams in a colander, discarding any that don’t close to the touch.
- Bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil.
- Meanwhile, put the clams in a large saucepan or pot. Add the white wine, heat to medium-high and steam them, stirring the clams occasionally, until they start to open. Remove each clam from the pot as it opens and place it in a large bowl. Depending on the size of your clams, you may wish to remove the meat from some of them before adding them to the final dish. Discard any clams that do not open. Strain the clam broth through a fine-mesh sieve lined with cheesecloth (muslin) into a bowl and set aside.
- Add the pasta to the saltwater, and cook until al dente (7–9 minutes).
- Meanwhile, in a large skillet over medium-low heat, warm the olive oil. Add the garlic and sauté until very lightly golden. Add the reserved clam broth and the lemon juice; simmer over low heat until reduced by half (about 4 minutes). Add the shrimp and calamari and sauté until cooked through (2–3 minutes). Adjust seasonings.
- Thoroughly drain the pasta and add it to the skillet. Add the clams along with any accumulated juices. Toss well over low heat for about 1 minute to coat the pasta. Sprinkle with parsley and serve immediately in warmed, shallow pasta bowls.
- Serving Size: Serves 4.