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Jun 9, 2010 10:25 AM

What's in Your Pantry -- Desperation Clam Sauce

It's been said before, but looking into a person's pantry is very much like spying on someone's groceries in the checkout line at the supermarket. It can reveal a lot about a person.

Two things that I often wonder about –– What do people cook on a regular basis, especially during the middle of the week, when they're short on time and energy? And when it comes to it, ok, yes, what is in their pantry?

What kind of chocolate is in there? How many types of salt do they have tucked away? Are they tidy and organized or is everything shoved in haphazardly? What kind of oil do they cook with? Is there an amazing ingredient hiding behind the corn starch or curry powder that I need to know about?

When I am desperate and tired, I rifle through my pantry -- ok, it's just a really tall cabinet! -- and look for solutions.

A few nights ago one came in the form of three cans of clams.

Now, I can't promise that you will love this. My sister really doesn't, though she acknowledges its merits. She thinks it's like ham –– we never long for it, but when my mom barbecues a whole ham we are surprised by how happy we are to eat it.

I think A. is pretty ambivalent. He never even comments.

I, however, find this linguine with clam sauce to be very satisfying and incredibly easy. You can make it in your sleep. I always have the ingredients on hand, and the whole dish can be ready in fifteen minutes. Add a salad and you have a fine meal.

All you need are clams, garlic, parsley, butter, thyme, and linguine. I almost always use Snow's brand chopped clams, because they come in clam juice. This way you don't need to bother buying a bottle of the stuff. If you buy clams in water, be sure to spring for the extra bottle of clam juice. It really is essential.

This is not a fancy linguine and clam sauce. These are canned clams, but the garlic and butter combined with the clam juice make for a delicious sauce that bathes the linguine well. Some folks might like to thicken the sauce with flour, but not me. I prefer the brothiness of the unthickened sauce.

And yes, I like to dust the whole thing with parmesan cheese. I can just hear the gasps now.

––Cheese on seafood! A culinary catastrophe!

I say eat what you enjoy!

Linguine with Clam Sauce

1/4 cup butter
1 large clove garlic, finely chopped
3 6.5 ounce cans Snow's chopped clams
1/4 cup chopped parsley
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme leaves
3/4 pound linguine

Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add the linguine and cook until al dente. Drain.

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a saucepan. Add the garlic and cook for one minute over moderate heat. Open the cans of clams and pour in the juice only, stirring.

Add the parsley, salt, pepper, and thyme and simmer for ten minutes. Add the clams and heat through.

Serve the sauce over the linguine. Pass parmesan cheese at the table, if you can stand the humiliation!

Jacqueline F
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  1. I do the exact same thing for a quick meal -- except I use olive oil, hot pepper, and more garlic. I like garlic;) It's a very quick and tasty meal. You can also toss in some onion if you feel like it.

    5 Replies
    1. re: visciole

      I will for sure try it that way the next time! Don't know why I didn't ever think to add hot pepper, since I am a heat freak!

      1. re: jacqueline f

        My better half loves hot pepper... so it goes in most things! I also like to make this using a lot of fresh parsley when I have enough. It tastes good with all that green, too. Celery tops work in a pinch. I like that it's flexible, a very good quality in an "emergency" dish!

      2. re: visciole

        Me, too. Olive oil, red pepper flakes and white wine. Last night, I found frozen shrimp in the freezer and added that to sauce.

        1. re: chowser

          Oh yes, white wine! I use that too, unless I don't have any.

        2. re: visciole

          That's my clam-sauce-in-a-pinch too, Visciole. It's a perfectly acceptable sauce. Lots of garlic and EVOO and the red pepper flakes along with dried oregano make it really tasty.
          I like to sprinkle chopped Italian parsley over top each serving.

        3. Hmmm - what's in my pantry?

          Well, we have a large store room down stairs, and my DH believes in keeping stocked up. So we always have things we can throw together in a pinch. We prefer to have fresh everything where possible, freezing in-season veggies when possible (it helps to have a large upright freezer) and keeping emergency rations in a bin in case of natural disasters (DH's idea). Our pantry consists of vegetables, beans, pasta, everything to toss together a sauce (including clam sauce), honey, spices, oils (vegetable, peanut and olive). In my freezer meats that we buy in bulk and then vacuum seal in meal-sized portions - Ground Sirloin (we buy in bulk from a local restaurant since it is lower in cost than the local stupid market and lower in fat), Steaks when they are on sale, roasts, stew meat, whole chickens, pork steaks. Vegetables (again vacuum sealed) corn on the cob, broccoli, cauliflower, peas, beans, carrots. Spaghetti sauce as well (DH makes in huge batches and then we freeze in meal-size portions), Chicken Tetrazzini, Lasagna (all only have to be defrosted, heat and eat). Also chicken and turkey stocks frozen in quart size portions. In the summer, I get the herb garden going, but in winter, I have a variety of spices. So - we are always good to go. Guess upon rereading what I just wrote - I am truly blessed.

          1 Reply
          1. re: boyzoma

            Wow, truly have an awesome system worked out! I am impressed! I have been working on organizing and streamlining, and you've given me lots of inspiration. We are pretty much always good to go as well, but not quite as efficient as you...I will get there:) Have been lately working on "decluttering" the downstairs freezer as well as the side by side in my kitchen, and making an effort to see what exactly is in my fridge that needs to be used to cut down on waste. We also buy meats in bulk when they are on sale, the restaurant thing is great...I don't have that kind of relationship with any restaurant folk, though, so I'm stuck with the "stupid" market (great phrase!) but we pretty much always have a couple of turkeys, a couple of whole chickens, some boneless skinless chicken breasts, some type of lean beef, and we bought the meat grinder attachment for our Kitchen Aid, so my husband has been grinding our own hamburg ( I won't pay stupid market prices for ground beef, plus then we can control how much fat goes onto it) and also pork and making his own sausage. My pantry is always pretty well stocked too....I guess I am blessed as well.

          2. FYI: a trick of mine - if you don't have fresh parsley, soak 1/3 the amount of dried parsley in twice the volume of white wine overnight in the fridge. Drain, and use as fresh. Works for dried minced onion and granulated garlic, too. Not identical, but nearly as good in a cooked sauce.

            1. I have made that clam sauce as well...and it is a good basic clam sauce, a great pantry stand by. I use parmesan cheese too, passed at the table. I make it with olive oil as well, but it would probably be as good, if not better with butter. I actually think I first found the recipe on a can of clams or a box of linguine:) There is a really great cookbook that my mom found at a garage sale for me last summer...called "Desperation Dinners" with lots of good advice on how to stock your pantry, and lots of good pantry recipes, most can be on the table in 1/2 hour or less. One of their hints that I have started using is to freeze pre shredded cheese (or you can shred your own and then freeze it) in packages, and then to group all of the packages together in one extra large zip-loc bag in your freezer, so you aren't hunting all over for that one package of cheese. Same thing with nuts. I've been doing it and it works well. They also have a blog, called Kitchen Scoop.

              1. I ALWAYS have the makings for imprompto white clam sauce in the pantry. Always. And spinach pasta to go with it (that's our favorite accompaniment).

                My version is a can or jar of commercial white clam sauce (Progresso usually), & an additional can of chopped clams. To this I add some dried oregano, fresh chopped Italian flat-leaf parsley, & crushed red pepper flakes.

                If I happen to have frozen clam or mussel broth on hand (which is often, since we enjoy steamed shellfish often & I always save the broth), I'll use that instead of the commercial clam sauce & add garlic sauteed in extra-virgin olive oil & 2 cans of chopped clams to the mix. I don't use butter in white clam sauce - extra-virgin olive oil only.