Serves 4 – 6
While in Tuscany, we visited the sunny Mediterranean coast. One of my favorite dishes was Linguine with Clams. I adapted the traditional recipe to make it silkier and taste similar to my memory from those warm summer evenings. I always prefer a small shell clam, such as Manila or Pasta Neck clams, which are also known as Spaghetti clams. I love this recipe because it is both simple to prepare and a year-round comfort food.
1 lb. dried linguine
1 1/2 lb. Pasta Neck or Manila clams*
2 – 6 or 6.5 oz. cans chopped clams and juice, drained with liquid reserved
6 tablesoons butter, divided
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
8 large cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups of chopped Italian parsley, divided (I use a little less than 1 bunch)
1/2 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspon white pepper
Salt and freshly ground black pepper (optional), to taste
Scrub the fresh clams and then soak them in cold water in the refrigerator for one hour. Fill the pasta pot with water (3/4 full) and add two healthy pinches of salt. Start boiling the water after the clams have soaked about thirty or forty minutes.
Rinse the drained canned clams and remove shell fragments, if any.
Melt 4 tablespoons of butter and the olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and pepper flakes after the butter melts. As soon as you smell the garlic, add the fresh clams and cover the pan. Shake the pan occasionally.
Remove the clams as they open, which will be about 5 minutes if using small clams. Place the opened clams in a large, warmed pasta serving bowl and cover with aluminum foil. Discard any clams that do not open.
Raise the heat on the clam broth to medium high and add the strained clam juice. The liquid will reduce into a sauce while the pasta cooks. After four minutes, add the chopped clams and all but 2 tablespoons of parsley to the clam sauce.
When you raise the heat on the broth, add the pasta to the boiling water and stir to prevent it from sticking. Cook the linguine one minute less than the shortest time suggested on the package.
Scoop the linguine out of the pot with a large scoop strainer/colander or tongs, rather than pouring the pasta into a colander. This allows some pasta water to cling to the noodles. Add the pasta and the white pepper into the clam sauce. Stir to coat the noodles with the sauce and cook for one minute. Stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter. Gently mix the opened clams and any accumulated liquid into the pasta. Season to taste with salt and then freshly ground pepper, if using. Transfer the pasta to the serving bowl and sprinkle with the remaining parsley.
*If you don’t have fresh clams, you can substitute an additional can of clams and their fluid.
Enjoy with a glass of your favorite Italian wine!