Spaghetti with Clam Sauce and Fresh Tomato
Is there any dish more reminiscent than this of the proverbial Italian repast, eaten by moonlight at some romantic seaside spot—say, Amalfi or Sorrento? It was not until I took my first trip to southern Italy that I knew what this dish should really taste like, and perhaps it was the grip of love that made it so indescribably beguiling. But even in my New York kitchen, there is a certain magic in this dish, and I cook it regularly.
Total Timeunder 30 minutes
OccasionCasual Dinner Party, Family Get-together
Recipe Coursemain course
Dietary Considerationegg-free, lactose-free, peanut free
Taste and Texturegarlicky, herby, juicy, salty, savory, tangy, winey
Type of Dishdry pasta, pasta
- 3 dozen littleneck clams
- 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 4 large cloves garlic, chopped
- 4 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
- 3 large ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped
- ½ cup clam juice or dry white wine
- Salt and freshly milled black pepper to taste
- 1½ tablespoons salt, for cooking pasta
- 1 pound spaghetti or thin linguine
- Italian or French bread, for the table
If possible, several hours before cooking clams, place them in a bowl with cold water and a handful of flour or cornmeal so that they can purge themselves. Refrigerate. Scrub clams well before using.
In a large skillet over medium-low heat, combine oil, garlic, and parsley, and cook until garlic softens. Add tomatoes and allow to simmer 2 to 3 minutes. Add clam juice or wine and simmer gently 3 to 4 minutes. Add scrubbed clams, cover tightly, and steam over medium heat until clams open. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Meanwhile, bring 4 to 5 quarts water to a rapid boil. Add the 1½ tablespoons salt and pasta. Stir immediately and continue to stir frequently to prevent strands from sticking together. Cook until pasta is al dente. Drain and immediately add pasta to clam sauce in skillet; toss. Serve immediately.
Do not add grated cheese (grated cheese should never be added to seafood sauces). Pass Italian or French bread at the table for soaking up clam sauce left in plates—not a drop should go to waste!
1991 Julia della Croce