My old friend, Tom Catalanotti has been asking for this recipe, so I thought I'd surprise him by posting it now. Who says you can't take requests? Tom and I grew up together and as you can tell from his last name, Tom is also Italian. We affectionately referred to Tom as Cat! His Mom, the sweetest thing on the planet was Mrs. "C".
This is a dish that my Mom made pretty regularly for us as kids and I do the same with my family. While it is better with fresh clams, I have made this a number of times with canned and it turns out just as nice. Another variation I like (whether with fresh or canned clams) is to add chopped clams in addition to whole clams. It just seems to complete the dish...and give you more clams!
Also, some like it red and some like it white. I like to think it depends upon if you want to drink red wine or white wine with your meal. Whatever your fancy, this is an easy dish and very tasty.
Classic Linguine with Clam Sauce
1 pound linguine
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
3 tablespoons chopped garlic
3/4 cup of white (or red, if making Red Sauce) wine
1 bottle of clam juice
*2 pounds Little Neck clams, scrubbed and purged in water
*2 cans of whole baby clams and 1 can of chopped (add only 1 can if using fresh clams)
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
For Red Sauce:
1 - 6 oz can of tomato paste
1 - 14.5 oz can of whole or chopped tomatoes (or even better...fresh)
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper to taste, garnish with chopped parsley
In a large saucepan heat water (salted) until it comes to a boil. Add the linguine and cook until al dente (8 - 9 minutes). Drain and reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid. Return the pasta to the pot, along with the reserved water and set aside. Cover to keep warm. The water in the pot will keep the pasta from sticking together. If making the white sauce, throw in a tab of butter for a little richer sauce.
In a large sauté pan, heat the EVOO over medium heat. Add the garlic, salt, and (red pepper flakes for Red Sauce) and cook for 1 minute. Do not brown the garlic, it will be bitter if you do.
*For the Red Sauce, add the tomato paste and stir until blended. Then add your fresh (or canned) tomatoes. I don't always have fresh tomatoes so I always keep some canned , whole tomatoes and crush them with my hands directly into the pot)
Add the wine (white, for White Sauce and red for Red Sauce) and clam juice and cook for an additional minute. Add your clams (fresh and/or canned), cover and shake (if fresh clams) occasionally. Cook until the clams open; which is about 5 minutes. Always, always discard any unopened clams. Never, never pry open a clam (or a mussel). If they don't open...you don't want to eat it. Bad clam, bad! If you're just using canned clams, I would give them a stir occasionally and continue cooking for about 5 minutes. Toss in the chopped parsley.
I like to take about 1/4 of the clam sauce and add it to the pasta pot to give it time to season the pasta.
Serve over the (seasoned) pasta and garnish with parsley.
Some folks love to put grated Parmesan cheese at this point, but my Mom always told me to never "cheese your fish". Totally up to you.
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