Labor Day weekend marks the unofficial end of summer for most Americans, but here in Brigantine it’s the beginning of what we call “local’s summer.” The island goes from bustling to sleepy in less than 24 hours. All the tourists go home, kids go back to school, and we get to bask in the still-warm-weather on practically empty beaches. It’s what we locals live for. The only downside is that Labor Day Weekend also means the end of our weekly Saturday morning farmer’s market.
I love this time of year, but I always mourn the end of my Saturday routine spent shopping the market and chatting up all my favorite farmers. Sure, I grow tons of veggies here in my own backyard, but there are still plenty of crops I don’t grow, like potatoes, fresh ginger, melons, and peaches. In addition, it’s where I go to pick up other goodies like hand crafted pottery, farm fresh eggs, homemade mozzarella, and straight-out-of-the-ocean seafood.
Clams are abundant at the Jersey Shore, and summertime can’t go by without cooking them at least once. I’m a bit shocked I waited all the way until the end of August to make some for the first time, but it was worth it since I got to cook them up with lots of goodies from the garden: homegrown garlic, spicy jalapeños, my favorite sun gold tomatoes, and lots of fresh herbs.
This recipe is easy, fast, and so satisfying. It makes a lovely little dinner-for-two along with a simple green salad, lots of crusty grilled bread, and a crisp white or rose for sipping.
Locals summer is sweet but brief. Live it up while you can.
One Year Ago: Ricotta Gelato with Pistachio and Fig, Goat Cheese and Chives Stuffed Tomatoes
Two Years Ago: Preserving the Harvest, Scallop Ceviche with Corn + Cucumber
Three Years Ago: Cape May Lobster Rolls
Four Years Ago: Thai Whole Grilled Snapper with Green Papaya Salad
- 6 thick sliced pieces bacon, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, very thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup dry white or rose wine
- 25 littleneck clams, scrubbed clean
- 1 jalapeno chile, thinly sliced (seeds removed for less heat)
- 1 pint cherry tomatos, halved (recommended: sun golds)
- freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 4 scallions, thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped or torn
- crusty bread for serving (brush with olive oil and grill for best results)
- Add bacon to a large pot or dutch oven and saute over medium heat until crisp. Use a slotted spoon to remove from the pan, then drain on paper towels and set aside.
- Pour off all but about 2 teaspoon of bacon fat from the pan, then add the garlic and saute for one minute. Add the white wine and turn the heat up to high.
- When the wine starts to simmer, add the clams and cover. Cook for about 5-8 minutes, or until the clams open up. Remove the clams to a serving dish, then tent with foil to keep warm.
- Turn off the heat, then add the jalapeño and tomatoes. Toss for a minute until they begin to wilt, then season with freshly ground pepper (the clams and bacon provide enough salt so no need to add any). Stir in butter until melted, then pour the sauce over the clams.
- Shower with reserved bacon, scallions, and basil, then serve immediately with lots of crust bread.