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Clams in garlic and wine

Serves 8 as an appetizer.These clams, writes Penelope Casas in ''Delicioso!" are standard tapas fare along Spain's coast. ''The sauce is exceptional for bread dunking," she writes. The 1 1/2-inch aquacultured mahogany littleneck clams from Great Eastern Mussel Farms work especially well in this dish.

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
4 pounds littleneck clams, rinsed
1/2 cup white wine
1 bay leaf
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 1-inch piece dried red chili pepper, seeded and crumbled
Generous squeeze of lemon juice
Several strands of saffron
1. In a soup pot, heat the oil and cook the onion and garlic over low heat, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes or until the onion softens.

2. Add the clams and turn up the heat. Cook them, shaking the pan constantly, for 1 minute.

3. Add the wine and let it bubble for 1 minute. Lower the heat and add the bay leaf, half the parsley, chili pepper, lemon juice, and saffron. Cover with the lid.

4. Cook the clams, shaking the pan often, for 5 minutes or until they have all opened. Discard any clams that do not open.

5. Divide the clams among 8 deep bowls, spoon on cooking juices, sprinkle with parsley, and serve with ''grilled" toasts (right).

Adapted from ''Delicioso!"

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