The flat shape of linguine (“little tongues,” in Italian) provides the perfect vehicle to soak up this scrumptious sauce. Served with a tossed green salad and crunchy Francese bread, the dish makes for a surprisingly easy meal.
Mario prefers the old-school method of dumping the cooked clams back into the pot along with the pasta, but for a more elegant presentation, you can plate the linguine first and then arrange the clams around the edge of the bowls.
Any type of clams will work for this dish, but the hard shell varieties-such as Littleneck, Manila, or Cherry Stones have a lot less grit and, if store-bought, should already be cleaned and flushed of sand. Discard any clams that have cracked shells, are open and won’t close within a couple minutes after being tapped on the kitchen counter.
This recipe is excerpted from Death al Fresco: A Sally Solari Mystery.
- 1 lb. dried linguine
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 6 cloves peeled garlic, thinly sliced (1/4 cup)
- 1/2 teaspoon red chili pepper flakes (optional)
- 8 oz. clam juice (1 bottle)
- 1 cup dry white wine (such as Pinot Grigio)
- 2 pounds clams
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1/2 cup chopped Italian (flat-leaf) parsley
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and start the linguine cooking while you make the sauce.
- 2 In another large, heavy pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat until glistening. Add the garlic slices and fry for a minute, stirring often so they don't burn.
- 3 Add the chili flakes, if using. When the garlic starts to brown, add the clam juice and wine to the pot and let it simmer until reduced by about a third.
- 4 Turn the heat up to high and dump the clams into the pot and cover. When the clams are all open (from 4 to 8 minutes, depending on the type of clams), remove them to a bowl with a slotted spoon and cover the bowl to keep them warm.
- 5 Leaving the heat on high, let the sauce boil (uncovered) until reduced by half. Add the butter and let it melt, and then turn off the heat under the pot.
- 6 When the linguine is al dente (still slightly firm in the center-cooked 8-10 minutes), drain it and dump it into the sauce pot. Stir well, so all the pasta is coated with sauce.
- 7 Add ¾ of the chopped parsley and salt and pepper to taste, and then add back the clams and any liquid that has collected in the bowl, and stir it all together.
- 8 Serve in large, shallow bowls and garnish with the remaining parsley.