The best party starter, Baked Clams Casino are super easy to make and can be prepped in advance for stress free entertaining!
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Wash the clams and rinse to remove any sand. Arrange the clams on a baking sheet and roast in the oven until opened, approximately 4-5 minutes. Discard any unopened clams.
Remove the clams from the shells. Roughly chop the clams and set aside.
In a large skillet over medium heat, cook the bacon until almost crisp. Remove the bacon from the skillet with a slotted spoon and set aside. Add the onion and bell pepper to the pan. Cook until softened, approximately 3 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook for an additional minute. Sprinkle with the Italian seasoning.
Turn off the heat. Add the bread crumbs, cheese, lemon zest, parsley and clams to the pan tossing to combine thoroughly. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
Fill the clam shell halves with a tablespoon of stuffing and arrange on a baking sheet stuffing side up. Top each clam shell with a piece of bacon. Drizzle with olive oil.
Bake the clams casino at 450 degrees for 5 minutes or until golden brown and crispy. Sprinkle with additional parmesan cheese and chopped parsley, if desired prior to serving.
Baked Clams Casino can be assembled up to 24 hours in advance and stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container. Bake just before serving for best results.