When I was in Italy, I discovered a love of shellfish that would never wane, despite that one night in Florence spent hunched over the toilet seeing shellfish like I never really wanted to see them. If I kept eating them after that, they must have been good.
In Italy, I mostly ate mussels, which unfortunately will always now remind me of Heidi Montag and Spencer Pratt–pre-balloons and “Higher. HIGHER!” debacle–sitting outside some restaurant, while Heidi teased “You should order the mussels. ‘Cuz you have no muscles,” the Speidi equivalent of Lauren looking at Lo, who looks at Audrina, who looks at Lauren, who looks at Audrina, who looks at Lo, who looks at Lauren. Do you guys seriously have nothing to talk about besides Justin Bobby?
Horrible pop culture references aside, mussels were my first love; clams, my second, more mature, more understanding relationship. I’ve made this so many times before, trying to impress boys or whichever guests I deemed worthy enough to feast upon my otherworldly makings. The texture of al dente pasta contrasts with the chewy clam meat, coated in a simple, totally perfect mix of olive oil, butter, lemon, garlic, and white wine. Drizzle a bit more fine olive oil to finish, and it’s earthy, lightly tangy, sophisticated. And while I thought that, with O, the romance is dead, we’re in it to win it, and the most interaction I get out of my meals is a “like” on my photo of the dish on Instagram, this one turned things around, really. O exclaimed that this is his “favorite new pasta”, and then he got down on one knee.
Just kidding, that would be awful. Baby, if you’re reading this…
If you propose, please don’t make me also do the cooking.
That being said, this is a two-pot dish that needs only one plate per person and is overall quite easy. Clams are pretty cheap, and the rest of the ingredients are nothing at all; you could probably get away with the entire meal for about 10 bucks, but don’t tweet angrily at me if I’m wrong. Only tweet happily if you skated out cheaper. Naturally!
Linguine con le Vongole
Note: If you, like we, like somewhat saucy noodles, double the sauce ingredients. This recipe makes very little “sauce”, though it’s really just a coating for the noodles. I usually double it, for good measure.
- 1 pound dry linguine
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
- 4 garlic cloves, slivered
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 2 pounds littleneck or Manila clams, scrubbed and rinsed well
- Sauce ingredients:
- 3/4 cup dry white wine, such as Pinot Grigio
- 1 lemon, juiced
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 handfuls fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons lightly toasted and fried bread crumbs (optional)
Prepare the sauce while the pasta is cooking to ensure that the linguine will be hot and ready when the sauce is finished.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add the pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until tender yet firm (as they say in Italian “al dente.”) Drain the pasta well.
Meanwhile, heat the olive oil over medium flame in a deep saute pan with a lid. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes; saute for 2 minutes. Add the clams, wine, and lemon juice. Cover and cook, shaking the pan periodically, until all the clams are opened, about 7 minutes. Discard any that have not opened.
Crank the flame up to medium-high heat. Add the hot, drained linguine to the pan; add the butter and season with salt and pepper. Toss the pasta with the clams to it’s nicely coated. Shower with chopped parsley and toasted bread crumbs. Drizzle with a nice dose of olive oil before serving.