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happy as a clam

Recipe: linguine with clams

No new snow for nearly two weeks has actually granted me the opportunity to take care of ski stuff that I would normally neglect on powder days. For one thing, we finally took our skis in to have the bindings swapped. A little bird told me that I could bring in a six-pack of craft beer and the ski shop fellas at the local mountaineering store could turn those around for me in a day. So I did. And they did! And they waived a bunch of labor fees too. When someone does you a solid like that, you return a few days later with homemade cookies. We also took care of our skate skis and I convinced my buddy, Erin, to do a nordic ski clinic with me. Even though there’s no new snow, skiing is completely on the brain.

pet the local mountaineering store pup while you’re there

erin and i having fun on the nordic center trails

our instructor showing us how to wax

I lost my photo mojo for a little while there, but that might have been because I was under the weather with a weird 24-hour bug that knocked me off my feet over the weekend. A stunning, colorful sunrise presented itself to the east Monday morning, but I felt so terrible that I just pulled the blinds down and crawled back under the flannel covers. Blarg. Tuesday morning promised to be a repeat of Monday, except that I was filled with pep and energy! I scouted a new location for shooting sunrise and managed to witness a beautiful progression unfold from this vantage point.

so many colors

mesmerizing textures in the sky

Being sick is one thing, but having cotton-brain runs my motivation straight into the ground. My mind floats in a heavy fog of pain or dizziness until I kick whatever it is I’ve got. I can tell when it’s gone because my perpetual mental to do list comes back online. Jeremy can tell when it’s gone because I start saying things like, “Help me make the bed,” or “The pastry brushes belong over there,” or “What would you like for dinner?” One category that consistently delights him is seafood. It is probably my greatest regret about moving to Colorado from the coast. We do have access to good quality seafood, but it’s not the same access as when you live a few miles from the ocean. That and the fact that seafood is a somewhat spendy indulgence here. So the other night, I had a craving for linguine with clam sauce – except I wanted fresh clams.

olive oil, linguine, wine, pepper, butter, garlic, salt, clams, parsley

minced garlic

chopped parsley


Standing at the seafood counter, I asked for 2 dozen littleneck clams. The fish monger asked, “Have you tried pasta neck clams?” Pasta wha? He held one up next to a littleneck and it looked like a baby littleneck clam. Little foods are so cute! He told me they have a great sweet meat and are more delicate than their larger counterparts. I must have said okay because he was counting up 3 dozen pasta neck clams before I knew what was happening. Once home, I scrubbed the clams down (no one likes eating grit) and then prepared a little jacuzzi of olive oil, butter, garlic, and white wine for them.

melt the butter and olive oil

add wine

get them all settled into the pan

Use a pot or pan with a tight fitting lid to steam the clams and get them to open. Most, if not all, should open eventually. Some of mine took as much as 8 minutes before giving up the fight. Apparently, most of the dead ones will be obvious before you even cook them – they will have opened while still cold. Toss those out. But keep trying to coax the closed ones open in the sauce. Just be patient. You don’t have to use clams in their shells, but I think they taste best this way, releasing their lovely clam juice into the sauce when their shells pop open. If you want to avoid dealing with shells, you can get shelled clams or canned clams. If you do, be sure to get some of their juice to add to the sauce – it is the difference between awesome and disappointing.

open sesame!

sprinkle the parsley over the clams

add a little more wine if you like it saucier

ladle over the cooked pasta

Honestly, we could do with or without the pasta and just eat the clams and the sauce straight up (with good crusty bread)! This dish is weeknight-meal-easy, but the whole clams lend it elegance enough for entertaining. I’ve tried it with both pasta necks and littlenecks and we prefer the pasta necks. If you can get your hands on some fresh clams, this is a simple, classic dish definitely worth trying.

butter, seafood, wine – what a combination

you’ll be clamoring for more!

Linguine with Clams
[print recipe]
from Stanley Tucci via Epicurious

1 lb. linguine, cooked al dente
1/2 cup + 1 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsps unsalted butter
6 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup dry white wine (I used 1 cup)
24 littleneck or chowder clams (I used 36 pasta neck clams), scrubbed clean
2 tbsps fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley, chopped
kosher salt
black pepper, freshly ground

In a large sauté pan or stockpot with a tight fitting lid, heat the olive oil and butter over medium high heat. When the fat is hot, add the garlic and sauté for 2 minutes. Pour in the wine and let it cook for 2 minutes. Add the clams and 1 tablespoon of the parsley to the pot. Cover with the lid and cook until the clams open – about 5 minutes. If they don’t all open, keep cooking the clams (covered) for an additional minute until they are all open (the dead ones usually open up before cooking and should be discarded). Season with salt and pepper. Spoon the sauce and clams over the cooked pasta and garnish with remaining tablespoon of parsley.

more goodness from the use real butter archives

garlic shrimp pesto pasta with roasted tomatoes hot smoked salmon and asparagus pasta tomato garlic pasta sauce pasta carbonara

15 nibbles at “happy as a clam”

  1. Sara says:

    I live out a little east of Boulder and go to Blue Reef Seafood in Longmont for my fresh items. It is spendy, but very fresh. Some of the best quality seafood I’ve seen since moving from the San Francisco area.

  2. Lisa says:

    This looks great. Linguine with clams or clam sauce will definitely make me happy. The first time I had this was in the 1980s when our Wine & Dine folks were in our younger year. We went to Waterside in Norfolk for the evening dinning and I ordered Angel hair with clams. Since then, I have tried many versions of this, but never had pasta neck clams. Will have to look for these little ones.

  3. Christina @ but i'm hungry says:

    One of the first meals my husband cooked for me was linguine with clams. It was nowhere near as tasty-looking as this one, but the dish still holds a special place in my heart. I think I’ll have to make it for him soon. Thanks for the inspiration! I hear ya on the seafood, though… there are lots of places to get decent fish in Chicago… but you’ve got to pay up for it!

  4. Anh says:

    One of my absolute favourites. Sometimes I do a combination of fresh and canned clams just so I can have more.

  5. Thalia @ butter and brioche says:

    Can’t remember the last time I cooked clams! You definitely have inspired me to go out and buy some so I can make this recipe. It looks delicious and perfect for dinner tonight!

  6. Casey says:

    Guh. Your photos of mise en place. They’re perfect. They make me feel super confident about dishes that have previously been terribly intimidating!

  7. Jodi@prairiekuchen says:

    Looks Delicious!! and what great ideas! I always think.. ‘I should bake these people something…” and then tend to …not :) good for you!

  8. Cathy says:

    Can’t get much better than this. Beautiful nature photography, delightful people & dog photos and food, or delicious food. Thank you so much – you inspire me. My husband is getting used to me saying “wait – you have to see this…and this…and this and we should try this.

  9. jill says:

    So sorry you caught that nasty bug going around. ACK. I also can’t imagine wanting clams when you came out of that fog! You always amaze me.

  10. jenyu says:

    Sara – I will have to swing by and check them out next time I’m in Longmont! Thanks!

    Lisa – next time you’re in Boulder, I’ll try to get some pasta necks for you to sample :)

    Christina – right?! That’s one of the only things I regret about living in this land-locked state.

    Anh – I know exactly what you mean!

    Thalia – thank you!

    Casey – oh good! My hope is that the photos will show just how easy it is to make some of these recipes. Of course, not all are easy, but I think when you’ve seen it (rather than just reading it) the recipes are less daunting :)

    Jodi – :)

    Cathy – awwww! xoxo

    jill – i’m just glad it went away quickly :) And the clams were before the illness – I usually shoot a recipe long before I post it :)

  11. Linguine Alle Vongole | Cositas I Love says:

    […] Adapted slightly from Use Real Butter […]

  12. Ann R says:

    Could I use this for mussels?

  13. jenyu says:

    Ann – I have never tried it, but I see plenty of recipes for clams and mussels with linguine, so it’s probably fine!

  14. 5344 says:

    This article makes my mouth just start to water. It’s not fair. Now I have to scrap my entire diner menu I had planned for today and just go out and buy me some clams.

  15. Diane Huntley says:

    I watched Brit Harry Bikers Gourmet and he gave a tip. If the clams are fresh (or mussels), you can put them in a bowl of water and sprinkle in cornstarch… they will spit out any sand.

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