This is one of the all-time favorite pasta dishes. You will find it on well over 50% of the menus in Italian restaurants. In Italy, Venice is probably most famous for this dish. I have this vision sitting in a sidewalk café looking over a canal at sunset, sipping on a cold glass of Gavi di Gavi, watching long-legged beauties walking by and smiling at my wonderful travel companion of 50 years.
Alas, enough day-dreaming. Let’s get to the point. Like Spaghetti Carbonara, this dish is quick to make – you can easily do it in 30 minutes, especially if you use canned clams. I have tried this with fresh clams but it takes longer and the results, while more attractive and romantic looking, don’t taste as good as what you get with canned clams. Go figure.
I don’t like to brag, but this recipe is so good that it will make you go weak in the knees. Women will definitely swoon. Serve with a Sexy Summer Salad and garlic bread and you have a winner. However, there are two tricky parts that you must make sure not to screw up. First, you only partially cook the linguine in boiling water and you finish the pasta in the sauce. While the pasta is still strongly “al dente”, drain and add to the sauce and let the pasta finish cooking in the sauce so that it absorbs all of the flavors. Secondly, since you are using canned clams that are already cooked, you must add them at the very last minute so they don’t overcook and become rubbery. Here’s how to prepare this great dish.
Time Required: 30 minutes
Servings: 4-6 (I usually figure that a pound of pasta will feed six people, but I served this dish to four and there was fighting over the last morsels.)
- 4ea. 6-oz cans of minced clams (if you can only get chopped clams, give them a quick dice – the pieces are sometimes too big to really stick to the pasta)
- 6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 1/2 red pepper, finely chopped
- 1-1/2 cups of dry white wine
- 1/3 cup parsley, finely chopped
- ½ cup Reggiano Parmigiano, grated
- 2 tbsp. olive oil
- 2 tbsp. butter
- 1/4 tsp. Red pepper flakes
- 1 tsp. salt
- ½ tsp. pepper
- 1 lb. of linguine
- Prep all of the ingredients. Everything happens fairly quickly and you need to be ready.
- Start heating the water for the pasta. Make sure that you add a dash of olive oil and about one tbsp. of salt.
- While the water is coming to a boil, open the cans of clams. Put a strainer or colander over a large bowl and drain the clams, reserving the precious clam juice. We need that for the sauce.
- In a large saucepan (a 5-qt. size is perfect), heat the olive oil over medium heat and sauté the onions and red pepper for about three minutes until they begin to soften.
- Add the garlic, salt, black pepper and red pepper flakes and sauté for another 2 minutes.
- Add the white wine and the clam sauce. Scape to deglaze if necessary, turn the heat to medium high and let the sauce reduce for five minutes.
- The water should be boiling, so add the linguine and cook for five minutes. This should give us partially cooked pasta that is yearning to absorb more liquid.
- Drain the pasta and immediately add to the sauce. Stir vigorously and cook for 4-6 minutes until the pasta is fully cooked and has absorbed most of the rich sauce.
- Return the heat to medium low and add the clams, parsley, and butter. Warm for about 1 minute.
- Add the grated Parmesan and continue to stir until the cheese has melted.
- Serve and enjoy. Make sure you have a good Italian wine – maybe a Gavi or Soave. The clams and the sauce always seem to settle to the bottom of the pan. When serving, keep a spoon handy to put a dollup of the sauce on top.
The end result is a pasta that is completely infused with the wine and clam sauce and is coated with parsley and clams.