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Meril's Linguine with Littleneck Clam Sauce

Meril's Linguine with Littleneck Clam Sauce

This is my daughter Meril's favorite pasta dish, and it'll become one of yours, too. Happy birthday, Meril!

  • Prep Time: 15 minutes, plus time necessary to scrub the clams
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 4 to 6 servings


  • 1 pound linguine or spaghetti
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper, plus more to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 pounds littleneck clams, scrubbed, discarding any that won’t close
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup clam juice
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flatleaf parsley
  • Salt


  • 1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the linguine and cook until just al dente, 8 to 9 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and allow the pasta to sit in the water 30 seconds longer. Remove the pot from the heat and allow the pasta to sit in the water 30 seconds longer. Remove 1/2 cup pasta water from the pot and set aside. Drain the pasta.


    2. Set a 14-inch skillet on the stovetop with its lid nearby. If you don’t have a lid, use another 14-inch skillet as the top. Add the oil to the skillet and heat it gently over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, red pepper, and black pepper and cook, stirring a few times, until the onion is softened and the garlic fragrant, about 5 minutes.


    3. Add the clams and wine to the pan, increase the heat to high, and cook for 3 minutes. Add the clam juice and cover the skillet. Steam the clams, shaking the pan intermittently, until all the clams have opened, 10 to 12 minutes. Discard any that aren’t opened.


    4. Add the pasta to the skillet along with the reserved pasta water, the butter, and parsley and cook until the pasta is warmed through and coated with the sauce. Season with salt and additional red pepper to taste. Serve immediately, making sure the servings have equal amounts of clams.

  • Cook's Notes:  Store clams in the refrigerator in a colander set in a bowl, covered with ice. It is important that the bowl be deep enough so that when the ice melts, the clams don't make contact with the water. None of this purging business, leaving clams to soak in water you've added cornmeal to, supposedly to get them to spit out any sand. In fact, if you leave clams in water, you'll kill them (believe it or not, they'll drown).

Recipe Details