Full of wonderful flavours from the sea, nothing beats a seductive bowl of Linguine alle Vongole. An essential part of Neapolitan cuisine, this fragrant dish can be prepared two ways: rosso, with tomatoes or bianco, without. This simple, elegant and tasty recipe pairs fresh clams and a simple sauce with a special secret ingredient — anchovies — which add a hidden depth of flavour to this wonderfully satisfying dish. A classic Italian pasta, this is one of my favourite meals to make anytime of the year.
Linguine with White Clam Sauce
5 dozen fresh clams
4 tbsp olive oil
4 tbsp butter
6 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
3 anchovies, minced (optional)
1/2 tsp hot pepper flakes
2 small cans of clams, saving the clam juice
1/2 cup white wine or vermouth
Juice of one lemon
2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 cup italian parsley, finely chopped; plus extra for garnish
1 tsp salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
1 pound linguine
Let the clams drain in cold water for at least one hour. In a large pan that will accommodate the cooked pasta, heat olive oil and butter on medium heat. Add the garlic, anchovies and red pepper flakes and cook until just golden, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add the clam juice, white wine, lemon juice, oregano, parsley, salt and pepper to taste. Simmer, partially covered, for 8-10 minutes. The sauce can be made ahead to this point.
Place the hard shell clams in a large pot with 1-inch of water and cover. Set on med-high heat and steam for about 6-10 minutes, or until the clams open. Discard the stubborn ones that remain closed. Shuck half of the cooked clams and place in a small bowl with the 2 cans of canned clams. Set aside. Reserve the remaining clams in their shells in the pot and cover. Meanwhile, reheat the sauce if you have allowed it to cool, adding the shucked and canned clams to the sauce and heat gently.
Bring a large pot of water to boil, and add 1 tsp of salt. Cook the linguine until tender but still firm. Drain the linguine and toss it with the sauce, mixing well to combine. Serve the linguine in individual wide rim bowls, and garnish each with 6 cooked clam shells and a sprinkle of chopped parsley. Serve with some lovely crusty garlic bread and a nice chilled bottle of white wine.