Macheesmo

Confident home cooking
Lots of flavor on this.
Main Dishes, Pasta, Quick and Easy, Seafood, Spicy

Clam Linguine

by Nick

When I was at the beach a few weeks ago with Betsy’s family, her second cousin walked me through a delicious version of clam linguine. Probably the best I’ve ever had. I’ve made clams with pasta before, but this version of clam linguine, while maybe a bit more work, is amazing. It’s 100% worth the extra effort but don’t worry. It isn’t really that much extra effort.

There are two main things that make this clam linguine awesome. One, this version calls for some good dried chiles to give some heat to the whole thing and two, you reserve all the clam cooking liquid and add it to the tomato sauce which gives the pasta a really intense clam flavor.

Yield
Serves 4-6.
Prep Time
Total Time
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Clam Linguine

Clam Linguine

Ingredients

  • 1 pound linguine
  • About 2-3 dozen clams
  • 1/2 Cup white wine
  • 6 dried arbol peppers (Add more or less depending on how hot you want it)
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 2 Cups chopped fresh tomatoes
  • A few sprigs of fresh rosemary
  • 4 Tablespoons olive oil
  • Good Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

1) Soak the clams in ice water for a few hours (overnight if possible) to get all the sand out. Change the water at least once and if you add some oatmeal in with the water, it’s supposed to help clean out the clams.

2) In a large pan with a lid, add all of the clams that have been drained. Add the white wine to the pan as well and put it on medium heat with the lid on.

3) Let this simmer for 10 minutes or until all of the clams are open and cooked. It’s possible that all the clams may not open. Throw away the ones that don’t open.

4) After they cool a bit, use a fork to pull out the cooked clams. I think this just makes the final product a bit easier to eat, but if you want to leave half the shell, you can just rip them in half and keep the half that the clam is on.

5) Pour the clam juice through a coffee filter into a bowl to filter out any dirt.

6) Add the oil to a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the peppers (just crush them up a bit) and sprigs of rosemary to the oil.

7) Let these simmer away over low heat in the oil until the rosemary is almost burned, probably 5 minutes or so, then remove the rosemary sprigs.

8) Add the garlic to the oil and let it simmer for a few seconds and then add the tomatoes. Let this cook for a few minutes until the tomatoes begin to fall apart.

9) Once the tomatoes are releasing their liquid, add the clam juice to the pan. Simmer the sauce down until it has a saucy consistency. Add a pinch of salt.

10) Cook the pasta until it is just barely undercooked.

11) Drain it and add the sauce right into the pasta. If you want to play it safe, reserve a 1/2 Cup of the cooking liquid from the pasta. You can add that back at the end if you need more liquid for the sauce. Stir it all together!

12) Add some grated Parmesan cheese to this if you want and also be sure to add some salt and pepper to taste. Then serve it up!


Choosing and cleaning clams

Choosing clams is pretty straightforward. Basically, they should be clean smelling and alive. This means that the shells should be closed or if the shells are open they should close if you tap them a bit. I always think it’s best to use clams within a day or two of buying them.

The thing about clams that’s important to remember is that they live in sand. You know how when you go to the beach you get sand in every place even if those places didn’t actually touch sand? Well, clams are about 100 times worse. There is all kinds of sand inside those shells. The only way to get it all out is to soak the clams in ice water for a few hours. Actually I usually soak them overnight if possible.

You’ll want to change the water at least once and if you add some oatmeal in with the water, it’s supposed to help clean out the clams.

Important step unless you like chewing sand.

Important step unless you like chewing sand.

Cooking the Clams

I like to cook the clams first for this dish. In a large pan with a lid, add all of your clams that have been drained. Add your white wine to the pan as well and put it on medium heat with the lid on.

Let this simmer for 10 minutes or until all of the clams are open and cooked. It’s possible that all the clams may not open. Throw away the ones that don’t open. They are no good. After they cool a bit, you can use a fork to pull out the cooked clams. I think this just makes the final product a bit easier to eat, but if you want to leave half the shell, you can just rip them in half and keep the half that the clam is on.

I ended up with a big bowl of empties though after I took out the clams.

Empties.

Empties.

The most important part of cooking the clams is the liquid that is left which is basically clam juice. It’s really flavorful and we will add it to the sauce later. For now though, just pour it through a coffee filter into a bowl. This will filter out any tiny grains of dirt or sand that were in the clams that ended up in the juice.

Looks strange. Smells awesome.

Looks strange. Smells awesome.

The Sauce

The sauce for this dish looks really light in the final product, but it has a lot of flavor. That’s because it includes both of these things: fresh rosemary and arbol peppers. Arbol peppers are pretty spicy, similar to the cayenne.

Good stuff.

Good stuff.

To start the sauce, add your oil to a large saucepan over medium heat. Add your peppers (just crush them up a bit) and sprigs of rosemary to the oil. Your house will immediately begin smelling amazing.

Flavoring the oil.

Flavoring the oil.

Let these simmer away in the oil until the rosemary is almost burned, probably 5 minutes or so. Then remove the rosemary sprigs. No need to get it all out, but just take out the large sprigs. There will be plenty of rosemary flavor infused in the oil now.

Then you’ll need some garlic and tomatoes.

Sauce basics.

Sauce basics.

Add the garlic to the oil and let it simmer for a few seconds and then add your tomatoes. You can definitely use canned tomatoes here if you can’t find good fresh ones.

Let this cook for a few minutes until the tomatoes begin to fall apart.

A light but flavorful sauce.

A light but flavorful sauce.

Once your tomatoes are releasing their liquid, add your clam juice to the pan. Depending on how much juice you have it might be pretty watery. That’s okay. Just simmer the sauce down until it has a saucy consistency. I like mine a bit on the watery side though. Add a pinch of salt also.

Meanwhile, start your pasta and cook it until it is just barely undercooked. For my linguine it said to cook it for 10 minutes and so I cooked it for 9 and then pulled it. The noodles had just a bit more bite to it than normal.

Once it is cooked, drain it and add your sauce right into the pasta. If you want to play it safe, reserve a 1/2 Cup of the cooking liquid from the pasta. You can add that back at the end if you need more liquid for your sauce. I didn’t need to do this though. There was more than enough liquid from the clam juice.

Stir it all together!

All mixed up!

All mixed up!

The pasta will finish cooking in the sauce liquid. Add some grated Parmesan cheese to this if you want and also be sure to add some salt and pepper to taste.

Then serve it up!

Really good!

Really good!

And yes, I did keep a few clams on the half shell just for presentation. In general, I think it’s easier to eat and just as flavorful if you remove all the clams.

I love this dish so much. The pasta is spicy and has lots of rosemary and garlic flavor. But the clam flavor is always there in the background.

Seriously, it’s probably the best clam linguine version I’ve had. I owe Betsy’s cousin a few beers for this one.