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Linguine with Clams (Photo by Viana Boenzli)
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5 from 2 votes

Linguine with Clams - Linguine alle Vongole

Linguine with clams - "Linguine alle vongole." You can even say it with your hands: "Linguine alle Vongole, capeesh?" A classic Italian dish that I’ve been making for many years.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Total Time45 mins
Course: Dinner, Lunch, Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: linguine alle vongole, linguine with clams
Servings: 2
Calories: 823kcal

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces linguine
  • 4-5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 50 little neck clams (2 pounds)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced (1-2 tablespoons)
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup dry white wine (eg Sauvignon Blanc)
  • ½ cup reserved pasta water
  • ¼ cup fresh Italian flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • Kosher salt to taste

Instructions

  • Start bringing the pasta water to a boil. When you add salt, use a little less than usual. 
  • While following the steps below, cook 8 ounces of pasta slightly less than al dente, as it will finish cooking in the sauce.
  • In a saucepan large enough to fit the clams in no more than about two “layers,” heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil, add the clams, and cover with a lid. Shake and stir occasionally. It will take about 8-10 minutes (depending on the heat) until the clams open up.
  • When the clams have all opened up, put a strainer in a bowl to catch all the cooking liquids when draining the clams. 
  • Remove the meat from most of the cooked clams, but also leave some in the shell. The clams left in the shell make an excellent presentation when serving, and the clams removed from the shell will get the full pan sauce treatment on all sides.
  • Using the same saucepan you just cooked the clams in, heat 4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, and add 1 tablespoon (or 2) minced garlic and ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes. Let the garlic (and pepper flakes) soften for about 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. 
  • Put the clams (including the ones you left in the shell) back into the pan and give it a good stir. 
  • Crank up the heat and add 1 cup of dry white wine (Sauvignon Blanc works great) and let the wine reduce (steam) for about 5 minutes. Reduce heat.  
  • Add ½ cuppasta water and the cooked and drained pasta, and give it another good stir. Taste and add salt as needed.
  • Drizzle with another 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and ¼ cup finely chopped Italian parsley. Use tongs to serve. Enjoy!

Notes

  • Which pasta shape is best? Linguine works best for me. When tossed in the pan with the clams and the clam sauce, the linguine gets coated with the right amount of sauce, a perfect balance. If you prefer spaghetti or vermicelli, go right ahead. I wouldn't recommend bucatini for a clam sauce, though. As delicious as they are, they work better with more tomato- and meat-based sauces.
 
  • How do I know the clams are fresh? Some people are hesitant to use live seafood in their kitchen because of potential problems. Eating a bad calm - or any bad seafood for that matter - is no fun. With live shellfish, there's a simple method I’ve been using for decades, and have never ended up with a bad shellfish in my dish: When you rinse and lightly scrub your clams under running cold water, toss any clams that are open or have a broken shell. After cooking the clams, toss any that are not open or have a broken shell. Remember:
    • a clam that’s open before cooking: toss
    • a clam that’s closed after cooking: toss
 
  • Starchy pasta water: Adding starchy pasta water will thicken the sauce and coat the linguine entirely. You'll end up with a mouthwatering, silky, briny, fresh seafood dish that will transport you to a little fishing village along the southern Italian Mediterranean coast somewhere. No, really, it does. 
 
  • Variations: You’ve probably figured it out and yes, you’re correct. You can substitute clams with shrimp, mussels, scallops, or octopus. Enjoy!
 
 

Nutrition

Calories: 823kcal | Carbohydrates: 92g | Protein: 23g | Fat: 30g | Sodium: 342mg | Potassium: 432mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 938IU | Vitamin C: 11mg | Calcium: 76mg