Clam Linguine

Clam Linguine

Photograph by Laurie Constantino

Clam Linguine

Serves 8

Recipe by Eric Brudie and Meg Simonian
“Our clam linguine is soupy. It’s more like steamed clams served over linguine,” Meg says.  “It’s actually Eric’s bachelor recipe that I tweaked.” Meg likes the lightness of this sauce because it highlights clams’ flavor. “Kids love it, even ones who don’t like seafood. Milo [Meg and Eric’s 2 year old] now picks up clam shells on the beach, brings them to his mouth, and slurps trying to get the clam and sauce. It’s pretty cute.” I asked Meg about using bottled clam juice and canned chopped clams. She said, “We don’t always use canned clams, but … [I] think using it distributes the flavor better. [Bottled] clam juice is an important ingredient.  Without it, the clam flavor is overpowered by the pasta.” Aleppo pepper is my addition; I prefer its fruity spiciness to the raw heat of crushed red pepper. If you like spicier food, use larger amount of either pepper. If you prefer food mild, use the smaller amount. For grating Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, I like using a Microplane classic grater. Some people think cheese doesn’t belong on clam linguine, but I’d bet good money that those who’ve tried Eric and Meg’s recipe disagree.

3 lbs steamer clams
1 pound linguine
4 Tbsp. olive oil
4 Tbsp. butter
2 cups sliced green onions, white and light green parts only (about 3 onion bunches or 16 onions)
2 Tbsp. minced garlic
2 cups dry white wine
1 8-ounce bottle clam juice or nectar
1 6.5-ounce chopped clams, drained with liquid reserved
1/2-1 tsp. Aleppo pepper flakes, or 1/4-1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper
1 tsp. kosher salt
2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
2 packed cups fresh basil leaves, sliced into chiffonade
1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf Italian Parsley
2 cups freshly and finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat.

Wash clams well to remove sand and grit from shells. Throw away clams that won’t close (they’re dead). Leave in colander to drain.

When salted water boils, add linguine and cook until al dente, about 8-10 minutes. Save 1 cup of pasta cooking water. Drain pasta and put back in pot with the reserved cooking wter

In large pot with cover, heat olive oil and butter on medium high heat until butter melts. Add green onions and sauté for 2-4 minutes until softened. Add garlic and sauté for 1-2 minutes. Don’t let onions or garlic brown. Add cleaned clams in shells, white wine, clam juice, liquid from canned clams, pepper flakes, and salt. Cover pot and cook over medium heat just until clam shells open.

Reduce heat to medium low. Stir in lemon juice, basil, and chopped canned clams. Cook for about 5-8 minutes to allow flavors to mingle. Add linguine and toss until it’s well-combined with clam mixture.

Carefully transfer everything to large, wide serving bowl, being careful not to splash yourself with hot liquid. Make sure clam shells are distributed throughout the pasta.  Sprinkle generously with the parsley and 2 cups grated cheese and serve immediately. If desired, serve extra cheese in a bowl at the table.

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