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Little Necks And Little Ears - Orecchiette With Clams, Sausage and Jalapeño Butter

One of my favorite types of pasta is orecchiette. It’s a great shape to hold sauce and with the right, you can eat it with a spoon unlike spaghetti, for instance, but truth be told, it’s sillier than that. I’m such a softie that orecchiette (translated: little ears), makes me think of my munchkins when they were small. And since one of my munchkins (see my little ladybug, tiny photo below) was coming for dinner, I made sure my pasta was little ears.

You could use any kind of sausage you have around, or skip it if you like. But the sausage adds a great flavor to the sauce - a bonus when the pasta you’re using takes advantage of that.


1 ½ lb littleneck clams

¼ onion

2-4 cloves garlic

1 ½ tablespoons chopped fresh chopped chives

8 oz kielbasa or hot Italian sausage

2 chopped jalapenos, stemmed and seeded

1 ½ tablespoons olive oil

½ lb orecchiette (little ears) or other pasta

½ cup white wine

4 tablespoons butter


Soak the clams in cold water while you prepare the other ingredients. Ideally, soak for 20-30 minutes, changing the water as it gets dirty.

Finely dice the onion and garlic and roughly chop the chives.

Slice and saute the sausage until done.

Remove from the pan and set aside.

Set a pot of salted water to boil for the pasta.

Drain the clams and rinse and scrub off any remaining grit and dirt.

Warm the oil in a wide pan and add the onion. Once it has softened slightly, add the garlic and jalapeno, stir and cook a minute. Deglaze pan with the wine (i.e. add the wine and scrape any browning from the pan, then add the clams in a single layer.

Add the sausage and butter. Cover the pan and allow to steam.

Meanwhile, add the pasta to the pan of water and cook until al dente. Drain and cover to keep warm.

Discard any clams that don’t open, then mix the pasta in with the sauce.

Transfer to bowls, with clams served on top, and sprinkle with the chives.

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