linguine with clams

2 to 4    |   
Prep Time:
15 minutes    |   
Cook Time:
11 minutes

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linguine clams

In my family, we have a saying: “serves 6, or John Ritchie” (that’s my father). And I live with someone who may be an even bigger eater than my dad. So when I write a recipe, sometimes I’m stumped on how many normal people it will serve. If it’s a dish with individual parts—like chicken breasts or fish fillets—it’s obvious. But if it’s a soup or a cake or a pasta, like today’s recipe, it all depends on the size of the appetites involved and what else is on the menu. So I like to give a range. The smaller amount means adult eaters who would eat this as a main course (2 for this linguine) and the greater amount means as a light first course (4 in this case) or smaller portions for smaller eaters (like kids). But it’s not an exact science and I hope you will feel free to adjust portions as you see fit for your own family or friends. Or, if you’re inviting my dad over for dinner, make twice as much!


kosher salt
20 small clams
2 cloves garlic
1 cup Italian parsley leaves
1 lemon
8 ounces dried linguine
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup pinot grigio or other dry white wine
pinch red pepper flakes


Bring a big pot of salted water to boil. Scrub clams to rid of any grit. Chop the garlic and parsley together roughly, then grate the zest of the lemon over them. Continue chopping all together until minced. Set aside.

When water comes to a boil, add linguine to pot and stir to separate strands of pasta. Cook until al dente, about 11 minutes, or according to package directions.

While pasta cooks, heat 1 tablespoon of the butter and the oil in a large saute pan or skillet. Add parsley, lemon, and garlic mixture and stir just until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add clams, sprinkle with a good pinch of salt, and shake pan to coat the clams with herbs. Pour in wine and let come to a boil, then reduce heat, cover, and simmer until clams open, about 5 minutes. Transfer cooked clams to a bowl with tongs. (If some haven’t opened, cover and cook a few minutes more. If they don’t open after about 8 minutes, throw them away…they’re no good.) Keep sauce in pan.

When pasta is done, drain it, reserving about 1/2 cup of cooking water, and add pasta to sauce in clam pan; stir in remaining tablespoon butter and red pepper flakes. Cook, tossing pasta with tongs, until it absorbs sauce (if needed, add reserved pasta water to moisten). Divide linguine among warm bowls, then spoon clams over each portion. If desired, squeeze some juice from zested lemon over each portion. Serve at once.

note: Italians don’t put cheese on seafood pasta and neither do I. But if you want to, feel free.