Wish Upon A Dish: Linguine with Clam Sauce

June 17, 2011

Linguine with Clam Sauce

The toughest decision to make about this dish is....red or white.

In most parts of Italy they add fresh tomatoes and sometimes orange juice to the pan. I have leftover sauce from my roasted mussels dish, so I am going the totally red sauce version.

I will probably add some Pernod because I did not buy any fennel and I like the taste of licorice with shellfish. In France they add Pernod to Bouillabaisse and Moules Mariniere and to a seafood stew (I do believe I saw Jacques & Julia use that on their PBS show).

There really is no secret to making Linguine con Vongole except having the freshest, best ingredients you can find. I bought a small container of freshly shucked clams yesterday and honestly, I have been craving this dish for quite some time.

I am ashamed to admit that I haven't eaten this dish in probably a year. Yes, shame on me since clams are my hands down favorite seafood to eat.

Two reasons:

1. It was getting harder to find a good clam sauce and when I did buy fresh clams I would shuck them, sprinkle some lemon juice, grate some fresh horseradish on top and slurp them down from the shell....yummy!!
2. The Nudge is not hot on clams. He's an oyster lover pure and simple.

Well, tonight I have decided to make my favorite, so there, take that!!

I think that I will make a run for some bread, this sauce just cries out for dipping.

As a base, I already made a 'to-die-for' roasted tomato sauce that I put a quart aside before I roasted the mussels in it, but it still has the clam juice in it, so it's perfect as a base for this dish.

Besides the Pernod, I will add fresh basil and oregano, along with some lemon zest and chopped fresh garlic. Clams can handle a heavier sauce than mussels and in Italy, you will usually see mussels eaten cold with a salsa verde sauce.

Somewhere along the way to America, red sauce was added to everything that really only had chopped fresh tomatoes back home and clam chowder, clam sauce, mussels and calamari had a whole new take.

You will never see fresh, lightly fried calamari served with a red sauce in Italy. They eat it my favorite way....with lemon juice squeezed over it, period.

You may see it stuffed and roasted in tomatoes, but it is always fresh tomatoes not a heavy sauce. The Italians won't even put herbs on their fish. They want the taste of the fish to shine through.

Now that I'm off my soapbox, let's get down to cooking.

Linguine con Vongole
makes 4 servings

Start with this recipe for the base sauce (minus the mussels of course).

* 3 cloves sliced garlic
* 2 tablespoons olive oil
* 1 tablespoon each, basil, oregano, parsley (all fresh, please)
* Zest from 1 lemon
* Juice from half a lemon
* 1 tablespoon Pernod or fennel if you have
* White wine
* Container of chopped clams or 2 dozen shucked clams
* Mixture of chopped parsley and basil for garnish
* 3/4 pound linguine or any long pasta
* Fresh bread, optional

1. In a saucepan large enough to hold the cooked pasta, heat the olive oil. When hot, add garlic and saute until lightly golden. Put large pot on to boil for the pasta. Cook according to shy of the time on the package.
2. To garlic, add lemon zest, Pernod, white wine and lemon juice. Simmer for a few minutes.
3. Add prepared sauce to mixture along with the herbs and simmer for 5 minutes.
4. Add clams 1 minute before pasta is cooked.
5. Remove pasta from pot directly into the sauce and stir to coat the pasta. Shut off the heat and remove to a large, warmed, serving bowl.
6. Garnish with basil and parsley and serve immediately.


This was so good, The Nudge (who is not a clam digger) had a second helping, yup....he had more. I done good.

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