Sunday, March 13, 2011

Local littleneck clams with linguini

If you love clams (and live in the Boston area), run to your local Whole Foods for their weekly special: local live mahogany littleneck clams for 99 cents per pound. You heard me. 99 cents. Locally sourced. You can have an Italian feast for well under $10. Their special is good through Tuesday, depending upon availability.

Don't laugh. I felt a bit squeamish about...well...clam death. Clam death in olive oil sounded particularly medieval. But I've happily eaten scallops and clams at restaurants, and thought it would be hypocritical to resist being the one to actually deliver the coup de grâce. And what a delicious coup de grâce it was.

Local littleneck clams with linguini
From Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 pounds littleneck or other tiny hard-shell clams or cockles, scrubbed
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon red hot pepper flakes, or to taste (optional)
1 pound linguine or other long pasta
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Chopped fresh parsley leaves

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt it. Put half the olive oil in a large, deep skillet over high heat. When hot, add the clams and cook, gently shaking the skillet or stirring the clams occasionally, until the first few of them open, after about 5 minutes.

Add the garlic and, if you're using them, the hot red pepper flakes and cover for a minute. Uncover, then continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until almost all of the clams are open (any that are not open at this point may be opened at the table with an ordinary butter knife), about 3 more minutes. Turn off the heat and leave the clams covered.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta in the boiling water, stirring occasionally, until it is just becoming tender but is still underdone; drain it, reserving 1 cup of the cooking water. Sprinkle the clams with salt and pepper and drizzle with the remaining olive oil. Turn the heat to medium; add the pasta to the clams and cook, stirring, until the pasta is tender, just a minute or so, adding the reserved cooking water if the mixture seems dry. Stir in the parsley, taste and adjust the seasoning, and serve.


  1. Yum! We have a white sauce-based recipe that we use with chopped clams on spaghetti. The kids BEG for "Clam Spaghetti."

  2. Mmmmmm...Looks amazing! I'm so jealous! 99cent clams - that's crazy pricing. SB was allergic to shellfish until he was 4, so even though he no longer gets rashy, he thinks that he can't eat it. It's a mental block, now. One of the few things he'll eat is linguine with clams, because without the shell he doesn't realize what he's eating. So much prettier with the shells, though.

  3. Mmmm...white sauce. Now I'm getting hungry. So funny about your son! I'm mildly allergic to shellfish, but eat it anyway. A small sacrifice for all the yum. :)

  4. I found your post while googling for clams. LOL.

    In the WF flier this week, they're selling local littleneck clams for $1.50, not as good a deal as yours, but I'm going for it!

    Anyway, it'll be my first try cooking live fresh shellfish. eek. Your post has given me a little more confidence! I just hope I can get rid of most of the sand. I heard soaking in a little cornmeal will help.

  5. Thanks for the WF heads up! I didn't have too much trouble with sand, but I think I overcooked mine slightly. Let me know how things go with your clams.


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