Linguine with Clams

 

Linguine with clams in a garlicky white wine sauce makes an easy and elegant Italian pasta dinner.

 

Servings: 4 to 6
Prep Time: 10 Minutes
Cook Time: 20 Minutes
Total Time: 30 Minutes, plus at least 20 minutes to soak the clams

HOW TO PREPARE THE CLAMS

The recipe calls for Littleneck clams, which are readily available at most supermarkets. They are usually sold in a mesh bag because they are alive and need to breathe. If your fishmonger places them in a plastic bag, remove them from the bag immediately when you get home from the supermarket and place them in a bowl (uncovered) in the refrigerator.

To prepare the clams, first, check that they are alive by making sure all of the shells are tightly closed. If any clams are open, gently tap them against the countertop; if they are alive, they will close their shells. Discard any clams that do not close their shells or that have cracked or chipped shells.

INGREDIENTS

  • Kosher salt
  • 1 pound linguini
  • 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped shallots, from 2 shallots
  • 6 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup dry white wine, such as Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc (see note)
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 pounds Littleneck clams (40 to 45), scrubbed
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest, from 1 lemon, plus more to taste
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice, from 1 lemon, plus more to taste

INSTRUCTIONS

In a large pot over high heat, bring 4 quarts of water and 2 tablespoons of salt to a boil. Add the linguine and cook according to the package directions until just shy of al dente (the pasta should still be firm to the bite since it will cook another minute or two in the sauce).

Meanwhile, in a very large sauté pan over medium-high heat, heat the olive oil until hot but not smoking. Add the shallots and garlic and sauté until just golden, about 30 seconds. Add the wine, red pepper flakes, 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, clams, and 1/4 cup of the parsley; bring to a simmer and cook, covered, until the clams open, 6 to 8 minutes. Discard any unopened clams.

Reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking water, drain the linguine in a colander (do not rinse). Add the pasta to the sauté pan with the clams. (If you don’t have room for everything in one pan, transfer the clams to a plate and cover to keep warm. When ready to serve, add them back to the pasta on a serving platter). Increase the heat to medium and cook the linguini with the clams, tossing occasionally, until the pasta absorbs most of the sauce and is just tender, 1 to 2 minutes. If necessary, add some of reserved cooking water to keep moist. Remove the pan from the heat.

Add the butter, lemon zest, lemon juice, and the remaining 2 tablespoons of parsley; toss to coat. Taste and adjust the seasoning with more salt, lemon zest and/or lemon juice, if necessary. Transfer to a serving dish or bowls and serve. In large pot over high heat, bring 4 quarts of water and 2 tablespoons of kosher salt to a boil. Add the linguine and cook according to the package directions until just shy of al dente (the pasta should still be firm to the bite since it will cook another minute or two in the sauce).

Note: When cooking with wine, select a bottle that is inexpensive (under $10) but still good enough to drink. Avoid “cooking wines,” which are salty and include additives. 

I went with “Three Wishes” Chardonnay that I found at Whole Foods that was very reasonably priced (here it is for under $4