Sea Food, Pasta

Cherrystones with Saffron + Fregola

Cherrystone Clams with Saffron + Fregola |

Happy Thanksgiving week, y'all! Every day I am #blessed with many things to be grateful for. Here's a sampling from this month.

1) After four(!) separate trips to the RMV I successfully had my father-in-law's low-number license plates transferred to me. Did you know people like low-number plates? I didn't know it was a thing until we so innocently said, "Sure, we'd like granddad's old plates." It was an epic adventure involving many RMV personalities. There were ogres and trolls who thwarted our mission and fairies and genies who ultimately made our wish come true. If you spot us on the road (#50517) know we earned those digits.

2) November marks my first blogiversary for this here site. By the numbers that's 36 posts, 47 recipes, ~200 hours diverted from Netflix binging, and too-many-to-count new friends. It's been such a fun hobby. Thank you to all for reading!

3) I rang in 31 on an unseasonably warm weekend with family from near and far, cupcakes delivered to my door, and a little 5K to counteract all the feasting. A success I'd say.

When you're done with all the obligatory cooking this week, have some fun and make clams in a brilliant yellow saffron sauce.  My friend and neighbor Julia at Formaggio Kitchen gave me some handy saffron-buying tips. Apparently yellow threads are filler for this very expensive spice. The good stuff will just have red threads. The more you know!

Cherrystone Clams with Saffron + Fregola |
Peeled Tomatoes |
Fegola |
Saffron Steeping |
Cherrystone Clams with Saffron + Fregola |
Cherrystones with Saffron + Fregola |


Serves 2 as a main or 4 as a first course
  • 1 dozen cherrystone clams, rinsed and scrubbed clean
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 bulb fennel, cut into small dice (reserve fronds for garnish)
  • 1 shallot, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, diced
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 2 tomatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 large pinch saffron
  • 1 cup fregola pasta
  • 1 1/2 cups water, divided


  • Peel the tomatoes by submerging in boiling water until skin splits (about 1 min). Remove with tongs and let sit until cool enough to handle. Slide skins off and discard. Remove core and roughly chop.
  • In heavy bottomed saucepan for which you have a lid, heat olive oil over medium high heat. Add chopped fennel, shallot, garlic, and salt. Saute for 4-6 minutes until vegetables have softened. Stir regularly taking care not to brown.
  • Add chopped tomatoes and cook for 1 minute.
  • Add wine and 1/2 cup water and bring to a boil. Reduce to low and cover. Simmer for 15 minutes.
  • Meanwhile cook the fregola and steep the saffron. Place saffron in a small bowl and pour in 1 cup boiling water. Let steep for at least 15 minutes. Cook fregola in salted boiling water until al dente (about 10-12 minutes). When pasta is done drain and set aside.
  • Add saffron and steeping liquid to your saucepan with the vegetables. Use an immersion blender to puree until smooth.
  • Return saucepan to your burner and add clams. Cover and cook over medium high heat for 10 minutes. Discard any clams that don't open.
  • Divide fregola among serving bowls and ladle clams and saffron broth on top. Garnish with reserved fennel fronds.


Carrot Salad

Carrot Feta Salad |

I turn the big 3-0 this week and this blog is something of a gift to myself, a fresh hobby to ring in a new decade. While I assure you this very important birthday will be marked by cake at some point, today it is marked by carrots. But they aren't just any carrots. They're the new rainbow mix that just appeared at our Whole Foods. I sincerely hope they aren't just pinch hitting for Thanksgiving because, goodness look at them!

This salad is a riff on one I've made several times with grated carrots. While wonderful, I wanted to give a new version a whirl. A version for those I-don't-want-to-pull-out-the-Cuisinart-and-clean-all-those-attachments days. And I'll say this hit the mark.

Happy birthday to moi!

Peeled Carrots |
Moody Carrot Sticks |

I cut these into your classic 'carrot stick' shape but really any cut would do - large chunks, small coins, whatever you please. The lengthwise cuts here highlight the awesome golden core of the purple carrots.

Garlic in Mortar and Pestle |

If you're not a garlic enthusiast you may want to proceed with caution. The bite of the raw garlic is an awesome foil for the carrots' sweetness, but scale back according to your taste.

Carrot Salad Mise En Place |

Rainbow carrots aside, nigella seeds are really the star of the show here. I was introduced to these little buggers recently and have been sprinkling with abandon ever since. They're edgy - literally, shaped like roughly chiseled sesame seeds. The flavor is subtle, a little smoky, a little peppery but their visual effect is striking. I haven't seen these widely available in grocery stores yet but of course we live in the golden age of specialty food mail order so not a problem.

Dressed Carrots |
Carrot Feta Salad |


Serves 2-4


  • 6-10 carrots, peeled
  • Olive oil
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and ground to paste
  • 1 tsp. nigella seeds
  • 2 Tbs. chopped parsley (have dill, mint, basil on hand? sub or a try a combo)
  • 1/4 cup crumbled feta


  • Peel carrots and cut to your liking; I did your classic 'carrot stick' shape though you easily do big chunks or coins
  • Bring salted water to a boil (use enough water to submerge carrots by 1 inch)
  • Cook carrots in boiling water for 3-4 minutes, or until easily pierced with a fork but not yet mushy (cooking time will depend on size of your cuts)
  • Drain carrots, let cool
  • Grind garlic in mortar + pestle until you have a thick paste (adding a pinch of salt helps this along)
  • Place carrots in serving dish, dress with lemon juice, a few glugs of olive oil, garlic and nigella seeds
  • Give it all a stir, top with chopped parsley and feta
  • Serve at room temperature

Make ahead and marinate in the fridge to amp up the garlic factor.