A classic, if you are going to cook Italian, clams linguini is a good place to start. The flavors of clams linguini are simple to put together, yet complex when they are together and even better when the so called “balance” is achieved. You can screw it up easily, but as soon as you get it right, you will know. I first started making this dish with my chitarra, which is a wooden frame that has guitar strings stretched across it to cut out fresh linguini. With my recipe, I give you the option to use fresh pasta and fresh clams, or canned clams and boxed pasta. I’m sure you know which will be better, but convenience is an issue as we all have day jobs too.
Ingredients: Serves 4
6 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 ½ Teaspoons Dried red pepper flakes
2 Tablespoons minced garlic
8 minced anchovy filets or 1 ½ Tablespoons anchovy paste
½ Cup clam juice
1 Cup dry white wine (I like pinot grigio)
½ Cup roughly chopped, fresh flat leaf “Italian” parsley + extra for garnish
Zest of 2 lemons (reserving some for garnish)
½ Teaspoon kosher salt
1 10oz can whole baby clams (drained)
Parmesan Reggiano for garnish
1 big pot of salted water- reserving about ½ cup after pasta is cooked in it
Either one batch of fresh linguini or a 1 lb box of dried linguini (you know which one will be better).
1. Get the water boiling.
2. Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat, add olive oil and red pepper flakes.
3. Once the oil is hot, add anchovies and garlic. Stir constantly until fragrant (about 2 minutes). Do NOT burn the garlic.
4. Add the clam juice and wine. Bring to a boil, then adjust the heat to simmer until reduced by half (about 7-8 minutes). Meanwhile, if you are using dried linguini drop it in the boiling water now. If using fresh, you want to only cook it for about 2 minutes and should wait until the wine is almost done reducing before boiling it.
5. Once pasta is al dente (slightly undercooked), and the wine has reduced, use tongs to add the cooked pasta to the sauté pan along with the lemon zest, clams, parsley and ½ cup of the water you cooked the pasta in.
6. Finish cooking the pasta by tossing with the tongs until the sauce slightly thickens and the pasta gets coated with sauce. If it seems dry, add more of the pasta water to “loosen” it up.
7. Garnish with extra parsley, lemon zest and lots of grated parmesan.
If you want to use fresh clams, before you start above:
Bring 1 ½ cups of white wine and a handful of parsley to a boil in a sauté pan. Add 2 dozen clams that have been cleaned and close when tapped (still living). Once they open, pull them out of the sauté and put them in a bowl. I will not give a time for how long they take as it varies from the type of clam and the pan used, etc. If any don’t open, discard them. Shuck clams and their juices into the bowl. Add shucked clams, ½ cup of the wine you cooked them in, and whatever juice that is in the bowl into the sauté in place of the canned clams and bottled juice from above.