After you make this recipe once, feel free to scale it up or down if you like. It’s designed to show you a technique, so as long as you stick with shallow baking dishes and divide ingredients proportionally, you’ll be fine.

Ideally you’ll bake each serving in its own shallow baking dish and then eat straight out of the pan – with plenty of crusty bread. But you can combine two servings in one larger baking dish if that’s easier, as long as it can hold all the clams in one layer.

Susie Middleton

I love to use an enameled cast-iron gratin dish (LeRoux at Home in Vineyard Haven has options from Le Creuset and Staub) for this, because the extra heat from the cast iron really caramelizes the tomatoes. But a heavy ceramic baking or gratin dish works too. A dish with a 1½ quart volume is about right, but an easier way to think of it may be a 9-inch square, an 11-inch oval, or a round dish of about 9 inches in diameter. You want the surface area for the tomatoes to spread out.

Lastly, while we always eat this straight out of the pan with slices of bread that have been brushed with oil and either broiled or grilled, you could certainly scoop the clams and sauce out and serve them over pasta, white beans, or even mashed potatoes. 

This recipe is a great destination for the late tomatoes we get in abundance here on the Vineyard in September and October. But you can carry this through the winter with grocery store plum tomatoes or good quality canned tomatoes, well drained.

Serves 2

  • 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, more for pans
  • 1½ pounds meaty tomatoes (plum tomatoes are good, seeded beefsteaks work too), cut into 3/4-inch pieces (no need to seed)
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh garlic
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil or mint (or a combination), plus more small leaves for garnish
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
  • ¼ cup white or red wine mixed with ¼ cup water
  • 20 kalamata olives, pitted and halved
  • 22 to 24 littleneck clams (a generous 
2 pounds), scrubbed 
  • 2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
  • Toasted or broiled slices of rustic bread 
for serving
     

1. Heat the oven to 425 degrees. Rub a small amount of oil all over two shallow gratin dishes of about 1½ quart volume.

2. Stir together 3 tablespoons of the olive oil, all of the chopped tomatoes, and ½ teaspoon kosher salt. In a separate bowl, stir together the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil with the chopped garlic, 1 tablespoon of the fresh basil or mint, and the red pepper flakes (if using).

3. Transfer the tomato mixture to the two baking pans, dividing evenly. Put it in the oven and roast, stirring occasionally, for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the tomato mixture has reduced and thickened somewhat (it will have turned a darker color) but is still somewhat loose.

4. Remove the pans from the oven and add the wine mixture, the garlic-basil oil mixture, and the olives (dividing each evenly between the two pans). Stir with a silicone spatula to incorporate any browned bits on the sides of the pan.  Arrange the clams (dividing them evenly) in the pans and return to the oven.

5. Roast for 8 minutes and check to see if the clams are opening, nudging or turning the clams with tongs if necessary. Continue roasting for another 5 to 7 minutes, or until the clams are all open. Discard any that are not.

6. Remove the pans from the oven and add the cold butter (divided evenly) to the pan, stirring it around gently until it melts and blends with the other ingredients. Garnish each dish with the remaining chopped herbs and slices of toast and serve right away.