Clams with Cream, Farro, and Baby Kale

July  2, 2014
4 Ratings
Photo by Mark Weinberg
  • Serves 4 for dinner
Author Notes

When I make clams I want the dish to feel more like a whole meal so I add a cooked grain and some greens to the mix. This idea was not my own, but one I have borrowed from chefs Chad Conley (formerly of Hugo’s and Gather in Maine and Jean-Georges in New York) and Greg Mitchell (Gramercy Tavern and Reynard in New York) who man the stoves at the refurbished Palace Diner ( in Biddeford, Maine. They routinely mix shellfish with things like fregola sarda and bitter greens. I think I have come pretty close to recreating the clam, farro, and kale dish I ate there a couple of weeks ago. They used mahogany clams, but I run with a mix of my favorite hard shells: cherrystones and littlenecks. —cheese1227

Test Kitchen Notes

WHO: Cheese1227 teaches cooking in Maine—so she knows a thing or two about seafood.
WHAT: A clambake, made heartier for winter.
HOW: Cook two types of clams two different ways, distribute between bowls, then use the clam cooking liquid to make a creamy mixture of farro and kale. Serve with a swirl of chile oil.
WHY WE LOVE IT: Some of the best clams are available in December and this recipe, bolstered with farro, packages them neatly into a hearty winter dish. If the clams don't warm us up, the hit of chile oil at the end will. —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • Olive oil
  • 1/4 cup minced shallots
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1/2 cup clam juice
  • 2 dozen cherrystone clams, scrubbed
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • Kosher salt and white pepper
  • 2 dozen littleneck clams, scrubbed
  • 2 cups cooked farro
  • 2 cups washed baby kale leaves
  • Sea salt
  • Chile oil
  1. In a 10-inch skillet, heat 2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Add shallots and cook for 2 to 3 minutes to soften. Add crushed garlic and cook for 1 minute more. Add clam juice and bring to a steady simmer. Carefully scatter the cherrystone clams into the pan and cover. Cook until most of the clams have opened, between 5 and 7 minutes. Discard any clams that have not opened.
  2. Meanwhile, in a 4-quart sauce pan, heat cream and season it with 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and 1/4 teaspoon white pepper. Add littleneck clams to the simmering cream and cover. Cook until most of the clams have opened, between 3 and 5 minutes. Discard any clams that have not opened.
  3. Split both types of clams between four bowls. Return the skillet used to cook the cherrystones to the stove over low heat, add farro to heat it through. Turn off the heat and fold in the baby kale leaves. Stir in cream used to cook littleneck clams.
  4. Split farro and kale between the bowls. Pour sauce over the clams. Finish with a swirl of chile oil and a sprinkle of sea salt.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Mary Catherine Tee
    Mary Catherine Tee
  • GSalvador
  • Robert Yohannan
    Robert Yohannan
  • Horto
  • cheese1227
I am an excellent eater (I have been all my life). I’m a pretty good cook (Ask my kids!). And my passable writing improves with alcohol (whether it's the writer or the reader that needs to drink varies by sentence.). I just published my first cookbook, Green Plate Special, which focuses on delicious recipes that help every day cooks eat more sustainably.

15 Reviews

Mary C. September 5, 2016
Excellent recipe! I used barley instead of farro and added some browned chopped bacon. Rave reviews all around. Thank you for sharing!
GSalvador December 18, 2015
Don't often leave comments, but this was just delicious...had to make do with the clams available at the fish market in town, but my family truly loved this meal and was sopping it up as if we hadn't eaten in weeks
Robert Y. March 1, 2015
Being new to farro what is the preferred method for preparing "cooked farro"?...and should it be toasted first prior to cooking for a more nutty flavor?
cheese1227 March 1, 2015
Toasting it is a great idea. Then simmer it in plenty of water, testing it as it simmers. I like it a bit on the toothier side.
Horto August 27, 2014
what is clam juice? how do you make it?
cheese1227 August 28, 2014
Clam juice is liquid strained from freshly shucked clams. It's bottled and sold in the tuna fish aisle of most US grocery stores. You can use fish stock or plain water in a pinch.
Pat August 11, 2014
Love clams, will be trying this soon but will only use one size. The smaller the clam the better to me!!
cheese1227 August 11, 2014
Good luck! Let me know how it turns out for you.
kathleen L. July 28, 2014
Why bother with all these pans and two different sizes of clams why not just make all littlenecks or all cherrystones? I'm not sure I understand the reason behind making more of a mess & adding more steps just to have 2 different size clams. I mean I'm a clam gal who clams all the time and this recipe sounds GREAT but size is the only difference between a cherry and a littleneck.
cheese1227 July 28, 2014
Great points Kathleen! And you've likely gotten to the root of my husband's main complaint my cooking, too many pans. You can use whatever clams you like. My point here --which corresponded with a column on types of clams -- is that if you are using a mix, you need to deal with the different cooking times each requires.
kathleen L. July 28, 2014
Okay gotcha. Love the idea of the greens with the grain in here......can't wait to try it.
Janet July 24, 2014
Can I use mussels instead of clams?
cheese1227 July 24, 2014
Horto July 14, 2014
why do i always grab the pasta?
cheese1227 July 24, 2014
Pasta and clams is a great combo as well. I like the nuttiness of farro here, though.