Summer in Western Washington is glorious! The sun is shining, the lake and ocean waters are shimmering, the surrounding mountains glow in the multi-colored sunsets, and friends and family are anxious to hang out and enjoy the long summer evenings.
I grew up near the San Juan Islands, a cluster of Islands in the north west corner of Washington State. Every summer, thousands of visitors come to enjoy the beauty of the San Juans. The San Juans are also famous for their seafood. Salmon, dungeness crab, muscles, oysters, and clams are among some of the favorites.
Growing up, my parents, sisters, and I took advantage of the beaches near our house. We thew on our bathing suits, aqua socks (you may remember them from the 80’s?), and grabbed a towel and headed to the beach with a bucket in hopes that we would come back home with a crab, clams, or at least some sea shells.
A few of us relived the tradition this summer!
Within an hour, we harvested approximately 30 pounds of manila clams and headed home to make clam linguini!
I followed this recipe from Mario Batali exactly and wouldn’t change a thing!
Linguini with Clams
In contrast to American renditions of this dish, which often feature a heavy tomato sauce, the Italian version focuses on the pasta itself. The clam and tomato accompaniment is light and simple. Red pepper flakes add a bit of heat, but you can reduce the amount if you prefer less spice.
In Italy, the clams would most often be the small-shelled variety known as carpet-shells. In America, the best substitutes are cockles or Manila or littleneck clams.
3 tablespoons kosher or coarse sea salt
1 pound linguine
12 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 pound New Zealand cockles or 24 Manila or littleneck clams, scrubbed
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 cup dry white wine
1 (14-ounce) can whole San Marzano tomatoes in juice, juice reserved and tomatoes coarsely chopped
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons fresh flat-leaf parsley, coarsely chopped
In large pot over moderately high heat, combine 8 quarts of water to boil and salt. Bring to boil, then add linguine and cook to 1 minute short of al dente according to package directions (pasta should still be quite firm).
Meanwhile, in large sauté pan over moderately high heat, heat 6 tablespoons extra- olive oil until hot but not smoking. Add garlic and sauté until just golden, about 30 seconds. Add clams and 1 tablespoon red pepper flakes and sauté 1 minute. Add wine, tomatoes and juice, and 1/2 cup parsley and simmer, uncovered, just until clams open, 7 to 8 minutes.
Reserve 1/2 cup cooking water, then drain linguine and add to pan. Simmer, tossing occasionally, until linguine is just tender, about 1 minute. If necessary, add some of reserved cooking water to keep moist. Remove from heat. Add remaining 2 tablespoons parsley, 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes, and extra-virgin olive oil, tossing to coat. Transfer to serving dish and serve immediately.