As Judith Jones' new book dedicated to recipes for one has not yet come in for me at the library, in planning my solitary home cooked meal I opted for my favorite standby: shellfish. As you may recall, I often rely on mussels for an elegant, solitary weekday meal. They take no more than five minutes to prepare, most preparations include booze of some sort, and Paul's not the hugest fan so it makes perfect sense to eat them while he's away.
But spring is upon us...the scenery around me is changing by the day at this point so I was in the mood for something new and different. When I saw the New Zealand cockles at the fish counter I simply couldn't resist. And the pea shoots in the produce section were just too green and seasonally appropriate to ignore, so I picked them up as well.
Now Suzanne Goin's Sunday Suppers At Lucques is one of my absolute favorite cookbooks, but not the one I would normally turn to for anything quick and easy. I tend to reserve her gorgeous dishes for company (how absurd of me now that I think about it...why should I feed company better than I feed myself?), but when I came across this recipe how could I possibly resist?
And after laying eyes on this image of the cute little striped cockles laced with green, any doubt I may have been harboring about the undertaking was erased immediately.
Obviously a few tweaks were made...I ignored calls for green garlic champ and brown scones, threw in frozen petite pois rather than freshly shelled garden peas and as I only had lamb stock in the freezer substituted that for chicken, but the result was just as delicious as all of her other recipes are (and considerably easier).
I officially love the idea of greens with shellfish now...it reduces my need for bread (I have been known to go through the better part of a baguette with a bowl of mussels), obviates the need for a salad and, perhaps more importantly, makes me feel as though I'm eating a true, well thought out meal. A luxury, solitary or not, we all deserve.
Buttered Cockles With Peas and Pea Shoots
Adapted from Suzanne Goin's Sunday Suppers at Lucques
Note: I found 1 pound of cockles was enough for one serving, so adjust the quantities (although frankly there's no need to be particularly precise with this recipe) depending on how many mouths you're feeding.
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/4 cups thinly sliced spring onions plus 1 cup thinly sliced spring onion tops
1 tablespoons thyme leaves
3 pounds cockles, or small Manila clams, well scrubbed
1/2 cup white wine
1 cup chicken stock
1 3/4 cups peas (2 pounds in the pod)
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 lemon, for juicing
1/4 cup chopped parsley
4 ounces pea shoots
Heat a large wide-bottomed saute pan or Dutch oven over high heat for 2 minutes. Swirl in the olive oil and wait 1 minute. Add the spring onions, thyme, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Cook about two minutes, stirring often until the onions are just wilted. Add the cockles to the pan and stir well to coat them with the onions and oil. Cook 2 minutes, add the white wine and cover the pan.
Steam the cockles for 3 to 4 minutes, until they open. Remove the lid and pour in the stock. When the stock comes to a boil, add the peas. Cook 1 minute (I do less if using petite frozen peas) and then add the butter, stirring to incorporate. Season with a squeeze of lemon juice and taste for seasoning. Discard any unopened cockles.