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My version of linguine w/ clams inspired by Rubee

  • c

Thanks to Rubee's post w/ photo about a month ago, I was inspired to make this classic Italian dish that you see below. I think it's traditionally made w/ spaghetti, but I only had linguine which was a fine alternative. I always have to imbue my twist on everything, so I added a couple of extra things that aren't traditional.

I have never cooked clams at home before, but after seeing how easy it really was, this dish will rotate into my regular repertoire so long as I can get fresh clams. I used littlenecks from a vendor who gets them from WA. The clams were juicy and sweet w/ just the right amount of pleasant chew. Their clam liquor was really miraculous, a true gift from nature that was the backbone of the sauce. I added no salt b/c the liquor was salty enough to season the whole sauce.

For a sauce that looked bland and nearly invisible, the flavor it imparted was staggering. The kind of dish that would have left me speechless and befuddled in a restaurant 10 yrs. ago. I was so pleased w/ the flavor that I thought how I would be proud to serve this to Mario or Marcella, which says alot.

What I basically did: Steamed scrubbed clams in about 1 c. white wine and 2 c. water til they opened. In large saute pan, sauteed shallots and then garlic in fair amount of EVOO til fragrant but not too browned. Then tossed in chile flakes, chopped parsley, rinsed chopped capers and sauteed til fragrant. Added some clam broth (that had the white wine) from the steaming pot. Simmered til evaporated a bit and flavors melded. Finished w/ squeeze of lemon juice and pat of butter. Added linguine that was not fully cooked through and simmered together til linguine was done and had absorbed the sauce. To serve, garnish w/ tiny bit more chile flakes, torn parsley, and drizzle of EVOO. This was all done in under 30 min. and would be a great way to impress guests w/o the stress.

PS. For the wine, I used a Louis Latour chardonnay-viognier 70/30 mix from TJ's called "Duet" that was quite nice and affordable.

Image: http://i2.photobucket.com/albums/y45/...

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  1. Looks delicious! I wish I could get good little necks. I do miss them. Here in Indiana if you can get them at all they run something like .69/each. When the stores get clams in they tend to think the bigger the better so what they have are chowder clams. A trip back home is over due, then we eat clams like there is no tomorrow.

    5 Replies
    1. re: Candy

      Thanks for the tip about small clams. I didn't realize that the smaller, the better so next time I'll pick through for all the small guys. Clams that I see on the central coast here in CA run for about $6/lb. so not cheap either (since the shells weigh so much) but so worth it when they were as tasty and fresh as I got them.

      1. re: Carb Lover
        b
        bob oppedisano

        Great photo and delicious post--thanks! I'll try Little Necks next time, after using cockles most of the time. Cockles are sweet and small, but seriously short of liquor. If you can get 'em (I can here in the Bronx), Manila clams and what appear to be a version of the Italian vongole verace are also fine. Or mix 'em--Little Necks for juice, others for different textures and tastes. BTW, in Italy (Naples, in particular) spaghetti is as common as linguine, butter's not used, and they're tossing in fried small zucchini coins or bits of cherry tomato at the end for color and variety.

        1. re: bob oppedisano

          Thanks for the info. I think some tomato and zucchini would be great right now. Try the littlenecks if you can get them; the liquor from the clams *made* the sauce.

      2. re: Candy

        fyi, Cockles are usually available (@$4.50/lb) and work equally as well.

        1. re: bk

          The only cockles I might be able to find in Bloomington, IN would be frozen from my asian grocery not fresh.

      3. Wow. That looks SOOOOO good.

        Linguini is actually the pasta of choice for clam sauce, I think. At least it sure is for me. And Fran Lebowitz even mentioned "linguini with clam sauce" as the greatest invention of Western Man, or something like that, in her first book of collected essays.

        1. Nice pic - drool! Here in Boston, linguine is the standard pasta for clams; rarely see it with spaghetti. Is it different on the left coast?

          2 Replies
          1. re: ju

            Hmmm...I always thought linguine and clam sauce went together too but came across a number of recipes online (some from Mario and Marcella, IIRC) that called for spaghetti. Perhaps spaghetti is traditional in Italy while linguine is more common on US soil?

            1. re: ju

              I think in Italian-American cooking, it's linguini. That's the most prev. pasta for the dish here on the left coast as well.

            2. I've also always thought linguini was traditional, but I do mine with spaguetti...in any case, I often make this with a recipe very similar to yours, other than using spaguetti and sauteeing in butter, rather than just EVOO...and no capers, since I am not a big fan. However, yours looks just a bit better, with sauce that seems to adhere a little better to the pasta. I wonder if perhaps linguini *is* the pasta of choice, or whether mine just has too much butter? (hard to believe the later, but one never knows).

              1 Reply
              1. re: susancinsf

                I looked in Marcella's Essentials book and she says that spaghetti is commonly used in Italy, so you've been doing it the Italian way all along. I was really pleased w/ how the thin sauce clung to the pasta so well and all the flavors had penetrated. I think it would have worked just as well w/ spaghetti. I'm assuming that you know not to rinse your pasta, so here's what helped:

                1. Adding just enough broth to coat but not be soupy. I added the broth slowly and then stopped when I thought anymore sauce would not be supported by the pasta.

                2. Finishing the cooking of the linguine in the sauce for 3-5 min. If the pasta gets too dry, you can always add some more broth, butter, or EVOO.

              2. Very yummy looking and what a great way to showcase your little clams (wish I had some!). I love a little chile heat with simple sauces like yours. Agree with Bob oppediasano about adding a little chopped tomato for variation-especially now that they're plentiful and ripe.

                1 Reply
                1. re: petradish

                  Thanks for the tomato tip! I even had some great early girl and heirlooms from the market. Well, this means I'll have to make this again pronto!