Usually the worst day of the week, Monday has now become my favorite with the start of a new tradition. Kate and I have decided to walk the High Line every Monday after work and then tackle a recipe that we’ve both been wanting to master.
Our first choice was obvious. A dish that we both love and order whenever we see but have been fearful of trying at home for as much as everyone says it’s easy, there’s still something that has stopped me from trying to recreate the classic linguine with clams. Will they open? Won’t they open? It turns out everyone was right – it really is incredibly easy and fast and yes, they do open as if by magic.
We wanted to recreate the best version we’d ever had which was at a restaurant in Florence. They had just a hint of tomato but it was in no way the dominant flavor. The fun for me was in the research – pulling out all my cookbooks and comparing recipes. Trying to take an element from each, we set about making our dinner and it was a total hit. Within minutes we were at the table toasting to our success and discussing what we would tackle next.
Below is a fantastic illustration by Aurora of one of my favorite pasta tricks for long shapes like spaghetti and linguine when you’re pot is not quite big enough!
Linguine with Clams
1/2 lb of linguine
1 lb of small clams – I used Manila Clams.
2 tablespoons of butter
2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
3 large cloves of garlic (sliced paper thin)
1/2 cup of dry white wine
A good pinch of red pepper flakes
The juice of one fresh tomato
A big handful of roughly chopped fresh parsley
Zest of 1/2 a lemon
1. Bring a large pot of water to the boil with plenty of salt and cook the linguine a couple of minutes less than the instructions on the packet. You will finish cooking them in the sauce.
2. Rinse the clams in cold water in a colander – make sure you ask the fishmonger if they are already cleaned.
3. In a large pan that has a lid, melt half the butter and all of the olive oil.
4. Add the garlic and cook on a low heat until soft – do not let it brown – about 5 minutes.
5. Add the clams and the wine, turn up the heat and leave covered for a couple of minutes.
6. Uncover and check for any that haven’t opened – discard these. There always seem to be a couple!
7. Drain the linguine making sure to reserve a mug full of pasta water to use if the sauce is too dry.
8. Add to the sauce and mix well with the remaining butter.
9. Then add the remaining ingredients: pepper flakes, tomato, parsley and lemon zest.
10. Toss well and serve immediately.