One night in Aruba we ate at an Italian restaurant called Gianni's with some of our friends who attended the wedding. I ended up ordering a shrimp scampi pasta instead of their fettucine with clams, but I have been thinking about pasta with a white clam sauce ever since. I actually went grocery shopping at Zabar's yesterday and came home with a pound of fresh linguine and told Alex that I demanded linguine with clams one night for dinner next week. Today we went out to lunch at Mad for Chicken with some friends of ours in K-town (aka Koreatown) where I introduced everyone to Korean fried chicken. For those of you who haven't had it, you are really missing out. The skin is light and incredibly crispy, without all of the extra breading that Americans use. And they serve it in one of two sauces - a sweet soy & garlic soy and a hot & spicy sauce. Both sauces are delicious. Anyway, back to the linguine. So after we went to lunch we went grocery shopping at H-Mart (a Korean grocery store) and I saw some gorgeous little neck clams. And the light said "linguine with clams for dinner tonight!" Actually, these clams were so little that I was almost convinced they were cockles, but they would have been pretty huge for cockles and they were clearly clam shells. Moving on.
I bought Mario Batali's Molto Gusto cookbook a few months ago and I have been rather obsessed with it ever since. As I was explaining to Alex, this cookbook is so much more approachable than his other cookbooks, which often require esoteric ingredients and very labor-intensive preparations. We made one of his pasta recipes from the Babbo Cookbook a few years ago and it took us about 4 hours to make the ragu, make the homemade pasta, and serve dinner. Don't get me wrong - the meal was delicious. But 4 hours? Anyway, I have been eying the recipe for Linguine with Clams in Molto Gusto ever since I bought it. We finally made it this evening and it was everything I hoped it would be. One of the beauties of a good white clam sauce is that it is incredibly simple - you mix evoo, garlic, white wine, red pepper flakes, and parsley with some clams and some pasta and it's just wonderful. The pasta is light and fresh, but very flavorful. The linguine itself soaks up so much flavor from the sauce, and the clams remain nice and sweet, with a kick from the red pepper flakes. Better yet? Dinner was on in the table in 20-30 minutes! And that included a quick salad of cherry tomatoes, fresh basil, sea salt and balsamic vinegar that I threw together, which incidentally was a perfect accompaniment to the pasta.
Recipe after the jump!
Linguine with Clams
Adapted from Molto Gusto
By Mario Batali
6 tbsp evoo
3 garlic cloves, minced
6 tbsp dry white wine (we used a nice Verdejo)
1/2 - 2/3 tbsp hot red pepper flakes
1 lb. little neck clams (can substitute Manila clams or cockles), scrubbed
1 lb. fresh linguine (can substitute dried linguine)
1/3 cup flat leaf parsley, coarsely chopped
Bring water to boil in a large pot. Add salt.
Meanwhile, combine oil and garlic together in a large saucepan and cook, stirring, over medium-high heat until the garlic is softened, about 1 minute. Add the wine, red pepper flakes, and clams. Cover and cook, shaking the pan occasionally, until the clams open, about 4 minutes. Transfer opened clams to a bowl. Set aside. Remove pan from the heat.
Cook pasta in boiling salted water until just al dente according to the package instructions on your pasta. Using tongs, transfer cooked pasta to the sauce pan full of clam broth. Do not discard pasta water. Return saucepan to medium heat. Toss pasta until it is well-coated in the sauce. If the sauce is thick, add a splash or two of pasta water to loosen it up and help it coat the pasta. Stir in the clams, as well as any juices that have formed in the bowl. Toss until just heated through. Stir in parsley and remove from heat.