Simple Supper: Linguine with Fresh Clams

Did you ever inexplicably get a craving for a dish that you never had in your entire life? And were kind of convinced you’d never like anyway so never bothered to try? That’s how this happened. I was sitting at work one Friday afternoon, wondering what to make for dinner, when suddenly the urge for linguine with fresh steamed clams came over me. Not canned white clam sauce, but fresh steamers, still in their shells, piled on top of a plate of buttery, lemony linguine, with just a hint of crisp pinot grigio in the sauce.

“Mmm,” Said my imagination.

“Growl,” Said my stomach.

So off I went to my local Wegman’s after work to gather my ingredients. Lo and behold when I got to the fish counter, I find that they don’t sell clams by the dozen, but only by bags of 50. Now, I can pack away some food, but FIFTY clams? Plus pasta? Not happening. I grumped away from the counter (yes, grumped. It’s a verb), picked up a baguette, a nice hunk of cheese, and a bag of grapes for dinner and vowed to make the dish of my daydreams another time.

A few weeks later on my day off, with visions of linguine still in my mind,  I headed to the Allentown Fairgrounds Farmers’ Market in the hopes that my luck would be better with their fish mongers. And it was. I picked up a couple dozen middle neck steamers, and I got my produce for half the week while I was there, to boot.

I got the clams home and immediately put them in a bowl of water in the fridge with some oatmeal for a few hours. This helps the clams spit out any sand or grit that might be in their shells.

When it was time to make dinner, I put a large pot of water on to boil for the pasta. I grabbed my favorite braising pan, added a few inches of water, and brought that to a boil as well. I added the clams to the second pot and covered them.

Once the shells were all opened I removed the clams from the water and set them aside. I drained the water from the pot, dried it quickly, and returned the pot to the medium high stove top. I added butter and oil to the pan & let it melt & come to temp.

I added some diced shallot and garlic and sauteed for a few minutes. Once the shallots are translucent to slightly browned, add the red pepper flakes (if desired), then white wine and fresh lemon juice.

Shell half to 3/4ths of the clams and add them to the sauce. Drain the cooked pasta and toss with the sauce, adding the fresh lemon zest and parsley, and salt and pepper as needed. Finish with another tablespoon or two of butter. Toss the remaining clams (in shell) and serve.

I made a garnish of parsley, lemon zest, a little bread crumb, and extra virgin olive oil to go on top, but I’d probably skip it next time. It didn’t need it.

Linguine with Fresh Clams

1/2 lb linguine

2 dozen fresh clams in the shell

1 large shallot, minced

2 cloves of garlic, minced

2 lemons, zested and juiced

2 TB fresh parsley, chopped fine

1/2 tsp red pepper flake (optional)

1/2 cup white wine (or chicken stock)

4 TB unsalted butter

4 TB olive oil

Cook pasta according to package directions. Steam clams in a small amount of water until just cooked, drain, and set aside. Melt 2 TB butter and 2TB olive oil over medium high heat. Sautee shallots and garlic until just browned. Add red chili flake if desired. Add lemon juice and white wine, stir to combine. Toss in pasta and parsley. Remove clams from shells (leave a few in for presentation) and add to pasta. Add remaining butter and olive oil, heat through and serve.