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  • Linguine with Clams
  • Linguine with Clams
  • Linguine with Clams
  • Linguine with Clams

Linguine with Clams

Food | September 19, 2017 | Nik Manojlovich
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Long noodles tossed in a rich sauce of clams, pancetta, and fresh herbs. Get ready to spin your fork because LINGUINE WITH CLAMS is coming to a bowl near you!

If we were preparing the classic Italian version of this recipe, we’d be doing spaghetti alle vongole, but instead, here’s my variation of this memorable pasta dish. The original wasn’t in need of improvement, but I think all recipes can evolve, by enhancing the ingredients and flavours to get our taste buds jumping. Having made this pasta for years, I’ve discovered some essentials to make it “lick-the-plate” worthy:

CLAMS – These salty-flavoured mollusks get top billing as the stars of the dish. I look for small clams, and my favourites are littlenecks. Ask for the most recent arrivals when you buy them – you want them to “clam-up” nice and tight when squeezed. I’ve also started asking if the clams were harvested responsibly, where clam diggers have followed limit guidelines when harvesting.

COOKING CLAMS – Clams are so important, they get two sections here. I’m really particular about scrubbing the clams – three times – to ensure that no sand makes its way into the sauce (see my coffee filter trick in the instructions). Another key step happens when we cook the clams: as soon as you see some of them open, stir the pot, cover and cook some more to give the rest another chance to open naturally. If they don’t open on the second try, do not use in the recipe and simply discard them.

THE DISH ON CLAMS – Wait! A third section, still discussing clams? My last point is about how we add them to the recipe. After you remove the cooked clams from the liquid, save three (make sure the clams are still clinging to the shell) as a garnish for each bowl of pasta you’ll be serving. Then extract the rest of the cooked clams from their shells and chop them up for the sauce. I like doing things this way rather than having guests pluck each clam from its shell – too much work!

PASTA – I’m not joking when I tell you I think I’ve tried them all. From spaghetti and tagliatelle to fusilli and penne rigate, the long and short of it: the slightly flattened profile of a long linguine noodle is the perfect surface for the bits of clam and pancetta to cling to. I’ve also tried the dish using egg and rice noodles, neither of which tasted right. If any of you experiment with gluten-free noodles for this recipe, please drop us a comment below, letting us know the result.

PANCETTA – The addition of pancetta gives the dish unexpected smoky notes, and I love the way it plays off the garlic and fresh herbs. Of course, you can omit if you wish, but why? Who doesn’t love bacon, especially the fancy Italian kind?

HERBS AND TOMATOES – Adding in the fresh-chopped basil and flat-leaf parsley is essential, and I suggest incorporating them as close to the end of preparation as possible. The roasted cherry tomatoes, either served on the side or spooned onto the twirled heap of steaming pasta, were a spontaneous addition. I saw a cluster of them at my favourite produce stand, roasted them almost as an afterthought, and loved the way they looked when we shot this story. Having now tasted them in the dish, they’re the latest tweak to this already flavourful recipe.

If you’re planning to prepare this for an upcoming dinner party, we think it pairs perfectly with ROASTED BEET SALAD followed by our PEACH COBBLER.

This might very well be the world’s most perfect pasta dish. Make LINGUINE WITH CLAMS and find out what all the fuss is about.

Ingredients & Amounts

  • For the clams:
  • 3 pounds of littleneck clams, scrubbed
  • 3 cups of water
  • For the garnish:
  • 1 cluster of cherry tomatoes on the vine
  • 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • sprinkle of kosher salt
  • For the pasta:
  • ½ pound of linguine
  • 8L of water
  • 3 tablespoons of kosher salt
  • For the sauce:
  • ¼ cup of extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced and chopped
  • 1 bird’s eye pepper, finely chopped
  • 1 cup of pancetta, diced
  • 1 cup of white wine
  • ½ cup of clam broth
  • ¼ cup of flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • ¼ cup of fresh basil, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons of butter

Instructions

  1. COOK THE CLAMS: Bring water to a boil in a deep skillet. Add clams, cover and cook for about 5 minutes. Remove lid and stir. Check doneness of clams. If they haven’t opened, cover and cook for an additional 3 minutes. Remove cooked clams to a medium-sized bowl, discarding any clams that haven’t opened.
  2. Reserve three cooked clams still in their shells as a garnish for each portion of pasta. Extract the rest of the clams and discard their shells. Roughly chop and set aside.
  3. Strain clam broth through a coffee filter-lined sieve, reserving ½ cup for use in the preparation of the sauce.
  4. PREPARE THE GARNISH: Preheat oven to 350°F. Place cluster of cherry tomatoes onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Drizzle with oil and sprinkle with salt. Place into oven and roast for 20 minutes. Remove from oven, cool, pluck from vine and place into a small bowl. Set aside.
  5. PREPARE PASTA: Bring water to a boil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add salt and pasta and cook to 2 minutes short of al dente, according to package directions (pasta should still be quite firm). Drain through colander, toss with a drizzle of oil and set aside.
  6. PREPARE SAUCE: Heat oil in deep skillet on medium-high heat. Add garlic and pepper and cook until garlic turns a light ivory colour. Add pancetta and sauté for a minute. Add white wine and cook until reduced by half. Add clam broth. As soon as liquid begins to boil add chopped clams, herbs and butter.
  7. ASSEMBLE: As soon as the butter melts and the sauce comes to a boil, add cooked pasta and toss to combine. Cook for two additional minutes.
  8. Transfer cooked pasta to soup plates, spooning additional sauce onto pasta. Garnish each plate with three clams and five of the roasted cherry tomatoes. Sprinkle with any remaining chopped herbs and black pepper. Serve immediately.

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Nik Manojlovich

Nik is the creator, host and brains behind Weekend at the Cottage. He loves sharing his wisdom and experience about the things that interest him most.

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