When I was a child, I fondly remember digging for clams at low tide around the Cape Cod jetties. It was a highlight of our vacation and a vivid memory of mine. We’d steam the clams and eat them dipped in melted butter, as soon as they opened. Linguini and clam sauce is one of my favorite shellfish dishes. I add chopped tomatoes and spinach, along with the traditional minced garlic, red pepper flakes, white wine and parsley. Just a reminder to never eat an unopened clam. If it doesn’t open after cooking, just discard.
- 1 pound linguini
- 24 fresh littleneck clams
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 2 cups diced tomatoes (I use San Marzano or the Pomi brand)
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 1 bunch fresh spinach leaves
- 1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Juice of 1/2 a fresh lemon (optional)
In a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook the linguini until al dente. Drain pasta and return it to the pot. Reserve some of the pasta water when draining. Set aside.
Place the littleneck clams in a large bowl and cover with cool tap water. Salt the water and let the clams sit for 20 minutes or longer. This helps remove the sand and grit. Drain and scrub the shells under cold water.
Heat the olive oil, garlic and crushed red pepper in a large skillet, over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the garlic is fragrant, about 2 minutes.
Add the tomatoes (with the juices) to the skillet. Add the wine and the cleaned clams and simmer, stirring occasionally for 8-10 minutes, until the clams open. Add the spinach to the pot, let it wilt and then add the cooked pasta to the pot. Stir until reheated and the clams have popped opened. If the the sauce is too thick you can add some of the reserved pasta water. Serve the dish with the chopped parsley and a squeeze of lemon juice. Add salt and black pepper as needed.