This traditional Italian clam dish is often served as an appetizer. Made with breadcrumb-topped clams, this dish is baked in the oven until the topping is crispy. Lemon wedges are usually served with clams oreganata because the flavor of lemon really complements the clams. Simple yet totally delicious, taste this recipe and you will know why this is such a classic Italian appetizer. The flavor and texture are excellent, and this is a gourmet treat despite the fact it is so easy to prepare.
This is worthy of being a dinner party appetizer, or you could just make it to impress the family. The following recipe is the traditional way of making it, but if you want, you can cook a few bacon strips until the fat renders off, then chop it and combine it with the stuffing. Another tweak is to swap the breadcrumbs for Ritz cracker crumbs. Either of those is a tasty option. You are the cook, so it is your choice whether to add the bacon or leave it out for a more authentic result.
If you are new to cooking fresh clams, rest assured they are very simple to work with. Although some clam recipes call for steaming the shellfish, this one calls for baking them for a couple of minutes to coax the shells open, and then you can make and add the breadcrumb topping, stuff the clams with it, and then broil them until the topping is crispy. Keep an eye on them while cooking. You do not want your tasty clams oreganata to burn.
How to Make Baked Clams Oreganata
Authentic Clams Oreganata Ingredients
- 12 scrubbed littleneck clams
- 2 minced garlic cloves
- ¾ cup plain breadcrumbs
- 2½ tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh oregano leaves
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped Italian parsley leaves
- ⅛ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- ⅓ cup chicken stock
- Salt, to taste
- 2 lemon wedges, to serve
Authentic Clams Oreganata Instructions
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
- Arrange the clams on a baking tray and cook for 2 or 3 minutes, or until the shells start to open.
- You do not want them to cook fully, just open up.
- Pry them open with a knife and then discard the top shells.
- Alternatively just leave the shells intact but pry the tops right back.
- Pull the clam off the shell then replace it in there so diners can eat them more easily.
- Preheat the broiler with the rack on the top shelf.
- Combine the breadcrumbs with the parsley, oregano, garlic, red pepper, and salt.
- Stir in the olive oil until well mixed.
- Stir in the chicken stock until the mixture is wet (you might not need it all).
- Taste and add more salt if necessary.
- Divide the breadcrumb mixture between the clams, packing it around the clams to lock in the moisture.
- Arrange the clams on a baking sheet and pour about ½ cup of water into the tray.
- The steam from this will also help the clams stay juicy and moist.
- Broil for 5 minutes or until the breadcrumbs are crispy and golden brown.
- Divide between 2 serving plates and add a lemon wedge to eat.
- Serve immediately.
Clams oreganata are tasty, juicy and perfect as an appetizer. This is a very simple recipe and one of the best things you can make with clams, or vongole as they are known in Italy. Fresh herbs feature in the stuffing, along with garlic and chicken stock. If you are looking for a satisfying Italian style appetizer, you cannot go wrong with this crispy seafood dish, and everyone will love it. If you usually make chowder with your clams, or you do not usually use them at all, you will find this to be a refreshing dish which pleases both the palate and the belly.