Cockles with White Beans, Greens and Harissa

, from Issue #80. September, 2018
Photography by Vanessa and Michael Lewis.
Cockles with White Beans, Greens and Harissa

Fresh cockles and clams have lovely sweet morsels of meat that are quick to cook and don’t require scrubbing, only a quick soak in cold water before using.


1½ kilograms cockles or clams, soaked in cold water for 10 minutes
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large fennel bulb, fronds reserved
1 leek, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 teaspoons harissa
zest and juice 1 lemon
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
3 large handfuls baby spinach
400-gram tin large white beans, drained and rinsed
small handful parsley, finely chopped


Heat the oil in a large sauté pan and add the drained cockles.

Cover and cook, shaking the pan occasionally. As they open, remove to a bowl, discarding any that don’t open.

Thinly slice the fennel. Place ⅓ in a bowl of cold water with a good squeeze of lemon juice and set aside. Add the remaining fennel, leek, garlic, harissa and the lemon zest, juice and paprika to the pan. Cover and cook for about 8 minutes or until soft. Increase the heat and add the spinach in batches, turning to wilt.

Stir in the beans and the chopped reserved fennel fronds then tip the bowl of cockles and any juices back into the pan and gently combine. Cover and cook for 1-2 minutes to heat through.

To serve: Drain the fennel and pat dry on kitchen towels. Place in a bowl and toss with the parsley, a squeeze of lemon juice, a little olive oil, salt and pepper. Scatter over the top of the cockles and serve immediately with crusty bread if desired.