Foodie Favorite Finger Food: Baked Clams Oreganata Dip to Die for!

Baked Clams Oreganata

Forget the diet for the day and focus on this baked clams oreganata “delicioso” dip. You don’t even have to worry about this dish being a crowd pleaser—which it will—because you’ll probably not want to share it with anyone other than yourself anyway.

This personal recipe will only take a few minutes to prepare and you’ll be “happy as a clam” with what you’ll end up with—a dish that not only titillates everyone’s tastebuds, but will get you compliments galore on your cooking capabilities, even if you’ve never gotten this in your life. If you have a can opener, a few herbs and spices in your pantry, can sprinkle these herbs with a not-to-heavy hand, you’re golden. Serve this on V-Day and you’ll have your Valentine eating out of your hand! (I’ll leave the dessert up to you!)

This clams oreganata dip (served hot) is to die for—not only because of the breadcrumbs and butter in it, which, of course, could be replaced with margarine or olive oil and gluten free-bread crumbs (Carly, I know you can so relate, so feel free to comment!) — but because the melding of all the ingredients once baked and crusty, smells great, presents well and is simply melt-in-your-mouth delicious! A restauranteur friend when tasting this recipe at a recent “hood” party thought this recipe was definitely a “keeper,” and was giving some thought to not only claiming it as his own at the next gathering, but adding it to his menu at Fagiolini, one of three of his fabulous NY restaurants. Another of our friends owns Trattoria Viviano in Warwick, NY where traditionally-prepared clams oreganata are out-of-this-world delicious, as is every other dish prepared in this cozy “best kept secret” hideaway. The owner’s daughter, quite the foodie herself, prepared “my” best kept secret for Super Bowl Sunday to the delight of her guests, who thought the dish was “awesome.” Works for me.

While I would like to take the credit for having prepared this quick, easy, and scrumptious recipe for years, I can’t. The kudos go to my “soulmate” and close friend, Paul, who, so very unfortunately, died of AIDS in the late 80s when he was in his mid- 30s. He had not the time to savor his masterpiece much or, for that matter, life to its fullest. He did, however, leave my husband and me with memories to last a lifetime that make us both laugh and cry, as those we love — and life itself — have a way of doing.

Paul gave me this recipe which he hand-wrote on vellum (the graphic artist paper of choice) that has turned sort of “tea-stained” with age and over-use. While it has seen better days (haven’t we all!) this little piece of paper brings back vivid memories of him every single time I pull it from my recipe file (which I do regardless of knowing the recipe by heart.) I absolutely refuse to replace that little piece of vellum which brings with it a little piece of heaven and Paul’s presence while I replicate (and now, share) his concoction. He would be tickled pink (or any fab, trendy color of the season!) to know I was sharing this with you. Considering he might be right over my shoulder right now, telling me to get on with the recipe so you have time to prepare it, here you go.

The prep time is just a few minutes and baking time, just 15 to 20 minutes in a pre-heated 350º oven. Feel totally free to use dried herbs and spices, but don’t tell snobby chefs or my friend, Leslie, I told you to do this. They’d freak. This recipe serves about 4-6 people (or one gluttonous person,) if you have other dips and hors d’oeuvres you’re serving as well.

Two  6-oz cans of Doxsee (or other favorite brand) minced clams (with juice!)
1/2-1 tsp. parsley
1/2-1 tsp. of oregano
5 good shakes of garlic powder (about 1/2 Tbl or more to your liking)
1 Tbs of minced onion (moistened)
2 Tbs Parmigiano Reggiano, reserving 1 Tbl for sprinkling atop the the mixture before baking.
2 Tbs lemon juice
2 or so shakes of tobasco (optional and to your and your guests’ liking!)
1/4 lb. (one stick) melted butter or margarine, reserving 1-2 tbl for drizzling on top before baking.
3/4 Cup Italian bread crumbs reserving about 1/8 to 1/4 cup for sprinkling on top.(Progresso Italian bread crumbs are fab, by the way.)
1/8 tsp. paprika (for sprinkling atop the mixture before baking.)

Reserving the 1-2 Tbs of butter, 1/8 tsp of paprika and 1/8 to 1/4 cup of breadcrumbs for sprinkling on top of your filled ceramic or glass baking dish, mix ALL the ingredients together in a bowl and don’t forget to include that clam juice!

You’ll want this to be moist but with lots of golden crust on the top, so the size baking dish for this recipe should be about 6 x 6 x 1.5” high (if square). Pour the mixture in the dish. Sprinkle the remaining bread crumbs, paprika and cheese on top. Drizzle the reserved butter or margarine and pop it into your pre-heated 350º oven.

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until the mixture is beautifully browned and bubbling. Let this dip cool for about 5 min before serving with unseasoned french bread toasts and/or crackers. And, don’t forget to tell us about the zillion compliments YOU got for slaving over a hot stove! The relaxing you did while your hot little dish baked, will be our little secret.




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