Spaghetti with Clams

AuthorAnn Gaffney
RatingDifficultyBeginner

Spaghetti with Clams is a classic pasta that invokes Italian summers in all their glory. This white version is a little different from usual. Its rich sauce comes from stirring together olive oil, clam liquor and white wine together with half cooked pasta. This fabulously simple technique creates a creaminess that comes from the starch of the pasta itself.  It's delicious.

Spaghettone with Clams
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Yields4 Servings
Prep Time20 minsCook Time1 hr 20 minsTotal Time1 hr 40 mins
 8 ½ cups cold water
 4 tbsp salt
 2 dozen littleneck clams
 ½ bunch flat leaf parsley
  cup olive oil, divided
 3 cloves garlic, smashed
 1 cup dry white wine
 6 ounces spaghetti
1

In a large bowl, dissolve the salt in the 8 1/2 cups of cold water. Tip in the clams. Cover with a cloth and leave them to soak overnight in the fridge. When you are ready to cook, drain and rinse the clams under cold running water. (See Quick Tips)

2

Over a high heat, fill a a pasta pot with water and bring to a rolling boil. Cover and lower the flame to a simmer.

3

Take 4-5 large sprigs of the parsley and set aside. Cut the large stems from the rest and coarsely chop the leaves. Set aside

4

In a wide, lidded saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over a medium high flame. When it starts to smoke, add the clams, the garlic, parsley sprigs and the white wine. Cover immediately to trap the steam. Cook covered over a high flame until the all the clams have opened wide, about 2-3 minutes. Remove from the heat. Discard any clams that have remained closed along with the parsley and garlic.

5

Place a strainer over a large bowl. Tip the clams into the strainer. Reserve the clam broth. Remove the clam meat from the shells. Set aside in a separate bowl.

6

Meanwhile bring the pasta water back to a rolling boil. Add the spaghetti and cook for half the recommended packet cooking time, about 3 - 4 minutes. While the spaghetti is cooking, pour the reserved clam broth back into the original saucepan taking care to leave any grit behind. Bring broth to a boil over a medium high flame.

7

As soon as the spaghetti is ready, reserve a cup of the cooking water, and using tongs, add the pasta to the clam broth. It should still be a little stiff. Cook stirring and shaking the pan continuously to loosen the starches from the pasta. If the pan starts to get dry, add a little of the reserved pasta water as needed. After about 3 minutes drizzle with 1/2 the remaining olive oil to start emulsifying the sauce. Taste the pasta for doneness. It should still be very al dente. Add the chopped parsley. Cook 1 minute more then test again. At this point the clam broth should have thickened to a light, creamy sauce that’s coating the pasta.

8

Add the clam meat to the pasta. Drizzle with the remaining olive oil. Cook 30 seconds then turn off the heat. Continue stirring and tossing the pasta for a minute or two or until the sauce is even creamier looking and the pasta a chewy ‘al dente’. Serve immediately.

Quick tip:
9

Soaking the clams in salt water overnight encourages them to spit out any sand or grit they may be holding onto, also not adding the shells to the sauce helps to keep the pasta grit free and clean. Keep the shells for garnish.

Spaghetti with Clams is a classic pasta that invokes Italian summers in all their glory. This white version is a little different from usual. The delicious creaminess of the sauce comes from the pasta itself.

Nutrition Facts

Servings 4

 

Ingredients

 8 ½ cups cold water
 4 tbsp salt
 2 dozen littleneck clams
 ½ bunch flat leaf parsley
  cup olive oil, divided
 3 cloves garlic, smashed
 1 cup dry white wine
 6 ounces spaghetti

Directions

1

In a large bowl, dissolve the salt in the 8 1/2 cups of cold water. Tip in the clams. Cover with a cloth and leave them to soak overnight in the fridge. When you are ready to cook, drain and rinse the clams under cold running water. (See Quick Tips)

2

Over a high heat, fill a a pasta pot with water and bring to a rolling boil. Cover and lower the flame to a simmer.

3

Take 4-5 large sprigs of the parsley and set aside. Cut the large stems from the rest and coarsely chop the leaves. Set aside

4

In a wide, lidded saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over a medium high flame. When it starts to smoke, add the clams, the garlic, parsley sprigs and the white wine. Cover immediately to trap the steam. Cook covered over a high flame until the all the clams have opened wide, about 2-3 minutes. Remove from the heat. Discard any clams that have remained closed along with the parsley and garlic.

5

Place a strainer over a large bowl. Tip the clams into the strainer. Reserve the clam broth. Remove the clam meat from the shells. Set aside in a separate bowl.

6

Meanwhile bring the pasta water back to a rolling boil. Add the spaghetti and cook for half the recommended packet cooking time, about 3 - 4 minutes. While the spaghetti is cooking, pour the reserved clam broth back into the original saucepan taking care to leave any grit behind. Bring broth to a boil over a medium high flame.

7

As soon as the spaghetti is ready, reserve a cup of the cooking water, and using tongs, add the pasta to the clam broth. It should still be a little stiff. Cook stirring and shaking the pan continuously to loosen the starches from the pasta. If the pan starts to get dry, add a little of the reserved pasta water as needed. After about 3 minutes drizzle with 1/2 the remaining olive oil to start emulsifying the sauce. Taste the pasta for doneness. It should still be very al dente. Add the chopped parsley. Cook 1 minute more then test again. At this point the clam broth should have thickened to a light, creamy sauce that’s coating the pasta.

8

Add the clam meat to the pasta. Drizzle with the remaining olive oil. Cook 30 seconds then turn off the heat. Continue stirring and tossing the pasta for a minute or two or until the sauce is even creamier looking and the pasta a chewy ‘al dente’. Serve immediately.

Quick tip:
9

Soaking the clams in salt water overnight encourages them to spit out any sand or grit they may be holding onto, also not adding the shells to the sauce helps to keep the pasta grit free and clean. Keep the shells for garnish.

Spaghetti with Clams

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