Summer in Capri. Real summer of the South, with blazing sun, salty winds and children running barefoot. Finally. after weeks of cold rainy Paris, we are in Capri, the island off of Naples in the South of Italy. We took a short plane ride to Naples with the black mountain of Vesuvio towering over the land, then a bumpy boat ride to the island, and were greeted by sunlight, warmth and great friends. Here the bright lemon trees dot the dry rocky cliffs descending directly into the dark ocean. The narrow roads small enough for one car at a time, winding up the cliffs to the white paved town on top of the island. The tiny coves for sun bathers who reach the rocks by diving straight off their boats. The shops filled with hand made sandals and citrus scented soaps. It is here that you have the best mozarella al limone, soft mozarella grilled between fragrant lemon leaves. It is also here where the delicately fried zucchini flowers are served white hot, stuffed with cheese and dissolving in your mouth after the first crunch. And it is here where our kids could not get enough of the clams cooked by the very talented Chef Ben – tight little clams tossed with lemon zest, parsley and white wine served with pasta with olive oil and sea salt.
Clams are packed with DHA Omega 3, protein, magnesium, calcium and Vitamins A and C, but also an incredible amount of Vitamin B12 – one serving equals 200% of daily recommended intake of B12. Vitamin B12 is extremely important for brain function and the development of the nervous system. It is also essential for the formation of blood. Studies have shown that Vitamin B12 can improve mental capacity and help emotional stability.
Our kids sat down for their pasta al vongole, clam pasta, with green beans, and with our dear friends, the grown-ups sat down for a great meal of clams, tomato and mozzarella, beef carppacio with shaved parmesan, fried zucchini flowers, pasta with bottarga, pasta pomodoro, arugula salad, and tiramisu.
Here is a recipe for clam pasta for kids inspired by Chef Ben. I use either whole wheat pasta or kamut pasta which has more protein and whole grains than normal pasta.
Pasta al Vongole
400 g Whole Wheat Pasta or Kamut Pasta
1 pound little neck clams
Zest of one lemon
3 crushed garlic cloves
3 tablespoons white wine
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped flat leaf parsley
1 teaspoon thyme
Salt and pepper to taste
1. In a bowl, add the clams and rub coarse sea salt to clean them. You can also use a brush. Clean the clams well, then soak in salt water for a few minutes.
2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add tablespoon of salt and pasta and begin to cook.
3. While the pasta is cooking, add olive oil and garlic cloves to a pan on medium heat for a few minutes – 2-3 minutes. Add the clams, lemon zest, white wine, and thyme and cover with a lid and let cook for 4-5 minutes until all of the shells open. If any of the clams are shut, discard them.
4. When the pasta is done (it should take 11-13 minutes to cook), drain and toss into the pan with the clams. Sprinkle the parsley, salt and pepper and toss well. Serve immediately.