This is a simple but elegant dish, authentically known as, Linguine con Vongole, that most people order in an Italian restaurant because they think it’s too hard to make at home. Clams are the easiest shellfish to cook! This whole dish can be made in about 30 minutes or less and the flavor and taste are as undisputed as if you were dining at a fancy restaurant in Italy. It’s made with mostly fresh “everything”… but most importantly, fresh clams! Not to mention it’s one of the most affordable pasta dishes you can make.
HOW TO PREPARE THE CLAMS
This recipe calls for Middle-neck clams, but you can use Littleneck clams too. Middle-neck clams are pretty popular in Central Florida and readily available at most supermarkets. They are usually sold in a mesh bag because they are alive and need to breathe.
If your fishmonger places the clams in a plastic bag, be sure to remove them from the bag immediately when you get home from the supermarket. Place the clams in an uncovered bowl in the refrigerator.
To get started, first, check that they are alive by making sure all of the shells are tightly closed. If any clams are open, gently tap on them; if they are alive, they will close their shells. Discard any clams that do not close their shells or have cracked or chipped shells.
Next, place all of the clams in a bowl and cover them with a 50/50 combination of beer and cool tap water. Let the clams sit for 30 minutes to an hour. During this time, the clams will expel sand from inside their shells. When you’re ready to cook, remove each clam from the beer/water mixture and rinse it under running water. Scrub the clam if necessary to get rid of any grit from the surface. Now the clams are ready.
- 100 fresh Middle-neck clams.
- 1 can of beer.
- 1/2 cup Extra Virgin olive oil, divided.
- 4 Tbsp. Butter.
- ⅓ cup of Chardonnay Wine.
- 6 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 medium sweet onion, diced.
- 1/2 tsp. of red pepper flakes.
- Juice from ½ fresh lemon.
- 1 Tbsp. of fresh oregano, or 1 tsp. of dried oregano.
- 1 Tbsp. of fresh basil, or (1 tsp. of dried basil), and more fresh Basil for garnishing.
- 1 Tbsp. of Old Bay Seafood Seasoning.
- 2 Tbsp. of fresh parsley, or (2 tsp. of dried parsley).
- Salt and pepper to taste.
- ½ cup of Parmesan cheese.
- 1 lb of linguine.
- Optional bottle of store-bought Clam Juice for more briny flavoring.
- Add 5 quarts of water to a large pot, add 2 tablespoons of salt, and 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and bring to a boil.
- Once the water is boiling, add the linguine and cook per box directions.
- While the pasta is cooking, melt the butter and add the olive oil to a large pan or pot.
- Over medium heat, sautee the onions, garlic, and red pepper flakes until the onions are translucent.
- Add wine, lemon juice, basil, oregano, Old Bay Seasoning, and optional store-bought clam juice, combine thoroughly for two minutes.
- Add clams into the mixture.
- Reduce the heat to simmer-low heat and simmer until clams open, about 5-7 minutes.
- Remove 50 of the 100 clams from the pan and remove the clams, discarding the shells.
- Place the clam bodies on a cutting board and roughly chop the clams, and set them aside.
- Drain pasta and place in a large bowl.
- Put chopped clams over the pasta.
- Cover pasta with clam sauce and the remaining clams.
- Sprinkle parsley, parmesan cheese, and whole basil leaves over the dish and serve.
- Optional serving suggestions, fresh Italian bread, and never let a bottle of good wine go to waste. Bon Appetit!