As we enter into garlic harvesting season here on the East End, chances are you will spot the long, hard-neck variety at many farm stands. While this pungent, juicy bulb can be overwhelming to some, the mildness of locally grown garlic could convert skeptics. Especially when cooked with butter, shallots and white wine to steam open littleneck clams.
“Garlic is one of our favorite crops to grow,” says Katie Baldwin, co-founder and co-executive director of Amber Waves Farm in Amagansett. “We grow a German white hard-neck type, planting nearly 12,000 cloves each October and start to harvest in mid-July.” As our seasons change on the South Fork, planted garlic changes along with it and, according to Baldwin, is an “exciting adventure along the way. In May, we start harvesting it as spring garlic and then snap the scape in June for a fresh preview of what’s to come!”
The garlic bulbs just harvested at Amber Waves are the perfect start to flavoring a sauce for a white clam pizza. Inspired by the famous New Haven, Connecticut-style pie, this recipe takes its base from the best part of steaming clams, the broth, using it as both the sauce of the pizza and reserving the flavorful liquid for dunking the crust in. Plating with a couple of whole clams on the side is the added bonus.
A few tips: Be careful not to brown the garlic when sautéing as minced garlic cooks in less than one minute. A dry white wine like steel-fermented chardonnay is key to a good broth (as always, cook with what you would drink).
The addition of breadcrumbs to the pizza topping brings a bit of a crunchy, flavorful foccacia vibe. Feel free to make your own, but store-bought Italian seasoned panko breadcrumbs will save you the extra step.
Growing Greek oregano in your garden? The flowers are edible and make a lovely garnish. Serve a slice of your white clam pie with a lemon wedge to enhance the clam’s flavor. A few crushed kalamata olives on top are also a nice finishing touch.
Entertaining friends? Grilling pizza is a lot of fun for a casual mid-summer get-together. Do yourself a favor and add a pizza stone to your repertoire. Not only will it help crisp up the bottom like a pro, but adding the scattering of corn meal just before placing the dough on the stone will give the pizza an ancient grains flavor, something you won’t get by placing directly on the grates.
As far as the dough, there are many simple pizza dough recipes out there — and by all means, have at it. We won’t judge you if you stop at Sag Pizza in Sag Harbor for their refrigerated dough-to-go kit, though.
Also important to know, this is the type of pizza you can really make your own. Variations of this vongole-style flatbread have appeared on menus this season from Westhampton Beach (Brunetti) to Amagansett (il Buco Mare). Add-ons can include bell pepper to bacon. One thing they start with? Garlic. “The large fresh bulbs we just harvested are juicy when sliced,” says Baldwin of her bounty. “We use them in abundance in all of our cooking both at home and in the Amber Waves kitchen.”
White clam pizza with a side of steamed clams
- 14-16 little neck clams
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 3 tbsp butter
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 large shallots , chopped
- 1 lb pizza dough (store bought or from your favorite pizzeria)
- all-purpose flour (for kneading)
- 3 tsp cornmeal
- kosher salt, to taste
- 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1/2 cup thinly sliced or torn mozzarella cheese (about 4 oz)
- 1 tbsp small, fresh Greek oregano leaves
- 1 handful chopped parsley
- 3 oz Pecorino Romano cheese, grated
- 1 tbsp Italian seasoned panko breadcrumbs
- 1 lemon, zested and juiced
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 1/2 to 3/4 cup crushed Kalamata olives