I just love the freshness of seafood here on the Eastern Shore. One of our favorites is Little neck clams. They are sweet and briny and go well in so many recipes. This Pasta dish is one of my favorites! By changing out the typical linguini pasta for the orzo, makes it easier to serve and I like the way the orzo collects in the clam shells.
Orzo and Clams
3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 small Fennel bulb, trimmed and chopped
1 shallot, chopped
1 teaspoon kosher salt
5 roasted red peppers (jarred)
½ teaspoon chili paste or Chili Flakes
1 cup Orzo
1-pound Little neck clams, Scrubbed and washed
2 tablespoons Fennel Fronds, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the olive oil and heat 30 seconds. Add the fennel, shallots and salt to the hot pan. Cook, stirring often until the fennel is soft (about 4 minutes). Add the red peppers and chili paste and cook another minute. Add the orzo and stir to coat the pasta with the oil. Add 21/4 cups of water to the pan and stir to combine. Bring the mixture to a simmer and continue to cook for about 6 minutes (follow the orzo package instructions for timing of the pasta). Add the clams to the skillet and cover with a lid. Cook and additions 3 to 4 minutes, occasionally shaking the pan, until the clams open. Discard any clams that have not opened. Gently stir to distribute the clams into the Orzo and sprinkle with fennel fronds and orange zest. Serve immediately.
I sometimes add Shrimp to this dish- - add them when you add the clams.