Like many Italian dishes linguine con le vongole (linguini with clams) is all about a few simple—and pristine—ingredients brought together with the proper technique for what has to be one of the world’s most satisfying meals.
Ingredients (serves 6):
-1 pound best quality dried linguine
-1 pound small clams, rinsed and scrubbed
-4-5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
-8 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
-1 cup dry white wine
-2 tablespoons red chili flakes (I love the heat, use more if you like)
-1/2 cup coarsely chopped parsley
-Parmigiano Reggiano (optional, for grating)
In a large sauté pan or Dutch oven heat the olive oil over high heat. Add the garlic cloves and sauté until translucent (do not brown). Add the clams, chili flakes, white wine and cover. Cook (1-2 minutes) until the clams have opened. Turn off the heat and keep warm until your pasta is ready.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and drop your linguine. Cook at least 1-2 minutes short of the package instructions (we want this to be al dente and the pasta will continue cooking when added to the clams). Add the linguine to the pot with the clams and toss with the parsley over high heat for 30 seconds. Plate and serve immediately. Be sure everyone gets some of the rich broth. Finish with grated Parmigiano Reggiano. Many would consider the addition of cheese to be sacrilegious (the Italians typically never add cheese to seafood) but in my mind this can be an exception. The addition of the cheese does not interfere with the clams and in fact adds richness to the broth and completes the dish.
James is a food writer and Bay Area chef who owns and runs a private dinner party and cooking class business specializing in regional Italian and Spanish cuisine. See CookWithJames.com