Linguine with Clams
As you read my blog, you'll be able to tell pretty quickly that I love seafood. Especially during the summertime, paired with a crisp, minerally white wine. It's amazing, though, how many people shy away from preparing seafood at home because they think it's a) too difficult or b) too expensive. Au contraire!
Linguine with clams, a summer standby, is so simple to prepare, and surprisingly inexpensive. I love the briny taste of littleneck clams, simmered in a garlicky white wine broth and tossed with linguine and chopped parsley. I like making this dish with cockles, the smaller, slightly sweeter cousins of the clam family. Plan on using about a pound for every two people.
The great thing about this dish (besides being amazingly delicious) is that nearly everything you need to make it, with the exception of the clams and maybe parsley, can be found in your pantry (linguine, garlic, red pepper flakes) or fridge (white wine, butter, lemon).
LINGUINE WITH CLAMS, WHITE WINE, AND GARLICServes 2
8 ounces linguine
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 to 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1/4 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
1 pound littleneck clams or cockles, scrubbed and rinsed well
1/2 cup dry white wine
Juice of 1/2 lemon
2 tablespoons butter
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
Freshly grated Parmesan (optional)
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. The idea is to cook the linguine while you are preparing the sauce–you want your pasta perfectly al dente (tender yet firm) and steaming hot when you combine it with the clams.
Add the pasta and cook for 8 to 9 minutes, or until al dente; drain.
Heat the olive oil in a deep saute pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and saute for 2 minutes until fragrant. Move the pan constantly–the garlic should begin to brown but take care it does not burn. Add the clams, wine, and lemon juice and increase heat to medium high. Cover and cook for 6 to 7 minutes, shaking the pan periodically, until all the clams have opened. (Discard any clams that have not opened.)
Add the hot pasta to the clams, along with the butter, salt, and pepper. Toss the pasta with the clams until it is evenly coated. Sprinkle the parsley over the pasta and toss one more time.
Serve with additional pasta and freshly grated Parmesan, if desired. (Many Italians consider it a cardinal sin to combine seafood with cheese, but I personally think a little Parmesan with this dish is delicious. I leave the decision to you!)
WINE SUGGESTION: The volcanic island of Ischia, off the Amalfi coast near Capri, produces smoky, minerally whites with bright citrus notes–perfect with seafood. The 2007 Casa d'Ambra Ischia Bianco ($15) is a match made in heaven for garlicky clams with linguine.