Summary: This past weekend I bought a bag of clams at our local farmers market. With them I made spaghetti alle vongole, one of my favorite meals. Since then I’ve been noodling on a clams second verse, and this morning, quesadillas came to mind! On my way home from dropping my boys off at school, I stopped by the store. A mind map exercise led me somewhere like this: I love clams plus...ooh, look fresh corn. Clams and corn! I also love corn and scallions, and bacon with all those things. So, I added those fixings -fresh corn is here! finally!- to my cart and then spent a hefty amount of time in the cheese aisle to get to just the right combo. Ultimately I chose Monterrey Jack and Asiago Fresco, a younger, softer version of its Asiago kin. These are great- the corn and scallions pop brightly in both taste and color, while the clams and bacon sing quietly but critically in the background. Delicious!
Yield: serves 2-4
- 16 littleneck clams
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 strips bacon
- 1½ tablespoon butter (if you don't want to use the bacon drippings or if you don't have quite enough to saute the veggies)
- 1 cup + 2 tablespoons chopped scallions
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 4 flour tortillas (not the huge wrap size; just the standard size)
- 1 cup grated Monterrey Jack cheese
- 1 cup grated Asiago Fresco cheese
Twenty or thirty minutes before you start cooking, place your clams in a bowl of fresh water to let them purge any grit from inside their shells. Just before cooking them, drain. Fill a medium-sized skillet (that has a lid) with water until you've got 1/4" or 1/2" in the bottom. Add the bay leaf, and set the skillet over medium-high heat. When the water is nearing a boil, carefully place the clams in, cover the skillet and steam 7-10 minutes. If some still haven't opened at that point, you can let them steam a bit longer. Ultimately, discard any that don't open. When the clams are cool enough to handle, remove the meat from the shells, coarsely chop it and reserve in a bowl with any juice you can save. You may then discard the cooking liquid and the shells.
In a 8" or 10" skillet, fry the bacon until crisp. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate to drain and cool some; then chop and reserve. If there is roughly 1.5 tablespoons of drippings left, you don't need the butter. Or, if you don't want to saute your corn and scallions in the drippings, pour them off and add the butter to the skillet. Heat the skillet over medium-high heat, and when the butter is melted or the drippings are hot, add the corn, 1 cup scallions and salt. Toss to combine well and cook until the veggies have softened but are still nice and bright. Remove from heat.
Set a cast iron skillet over medium heat. When hot, add one tortilla. Carefully place half the cheese, half the corn-scallion mixture, half the bacon and half the clams on tops. Add a second tortilla to make a "sandwich", pressing down gently with a large spatula. Pay attention to the heat- if your tortillas brown too quickly, turn it down some. After a couple minutes, carefully flip the quesadilla. After a couple minutes, you might want to flip it again. You want the cheese nicely melted, everything warmed through and the tortillas lightly golden. Garnish with remaining chopped scallions. Repeat with the remaining ingredients. Cut each tortilla into quarters or sixths and enjoy immediately.