Keeping with National Pasta Month, here is a standard recipe in our house. Since the idea of this blog is supposed to be a simple recipes and techniques, I need to point out there are many ways to make pasta with clams. You can use whole clams, add tomatoes, thicken the sauce with flour and butter, use bottled clam juice – many excellent variations are out there. This is a basic recipe, that you should feel free to modify and add to as you see fit. Sometimes simple works just fine.
- 1 (16 ounce) package linguini pasta
- Salt for pasta water
- 2 (6.5 ounce) cans chopped clams, including the clam juice (Do not use canned minced clams. They are too small for this recipe.)
- 3 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 3 to 4 cloves garlic, minced (about a heaping tablespoon)
- Pinch of red chili pepper flakes
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 1 tablespoon minced parsley
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- Large serving bowl
- 2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley (to add right before serving)
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. (1 Tbsp of salt for every 2 quarts of water).
- Cook Linguine according to package directions. Set your timer for 2 minutes less than the recommended time (so you can make sure that you are cooking the pasta al dente).
- While the water is heating, prepare the garlic, lemon zest, and parsley.
- Sauté garlic, red pepper chili flakes:Heat 3 Tbsp of olive oil in a sauté pan on medium heat. Add the minced garlic and the red chili pepper flakes. Cook for 30 seconds to a minute, until the garlic just is on the edge of browning.
- Add wine, clam juice, reduce: Add the white wine to the pan. Open the cans of clams and squeeze out the clam juice into the pan.
- Turn the burner to high and let the sauce boil, until it reduces. (Put pan on largest burner on high heat to help the sauce reduce more quickly.) You can always add more wine or pasta water if it gets a little too much reduced.
- Add chopped clams, parsley, lemon zest:About the same time the pasta is finishing its cooking, the sauce should be reduced by about two-thirds. There should be about 1/4 to 1/3 cup of liquid still in the pan. Add the chopped clams, and return to a simmer. Then stir in the minced parsley and the lemon zest.
- Toss cooked pasta with the clam sauce, in the sauce pan:When the pasta is done to the point of al dente (cooked but still a little firm when you bite), use a pair of tongs and add the cooked pasta into the sauté pan with the Clam sauce.
- Finish cooking the pasta in the clam sauce. It’s ok if a little water gets into the sauce as you transfer the pasta to the sauce pan. (This is a trick I learned from Lidia Bastianich- cook the pasta until it is al dente and then add to your sauce in the pan, to finish cooking).
- Transfer to a serving bowl, and add freshly ground black pepper to taste.
- Serve with a little more fresh parsley sprinkled over the top.