An Easy Classic: Linguine With White Clam Sauce

When I first came across this recipe several years ago, I was skeptical about it.  Could homemade clam sauce from canned clams really be good, or was this one of those recipes that tries and fails to recreate at home something that is delicious only in restaurants?  But the lure of a different (meaning not tomato based or heavy cream) pasta dish that incorporated seafood, a protein our whole family eats, was too much for me.  

I broke down and made it, and it was so delectable I immediately added the recipe to my cookbook and the dish to our dinner rotation. 

It's easy, classic, flavorful, and has few ingredients, all of which are easy to keep on hand.  Except the wine.  Wine never lasts long around here, once opened.  But we actually had some leftover Chardonnay-Viognier in the fridge this week.  

This recipe claims to serve four, but I'd double it if you have a family of four or more solid eaters.

Linguine With White Clam Sauce

Serves 3 or so

1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1/4 c butter 
2 cans minced or chopped clams, drained.  Reserve 2/3 c of the liquid
1/4 c white wine
1/4 t pepper
1 T chopped parsley
1 t sea salt
8 oz linguine or thin spaghetti
1/3 c freshly grated parmesan or pecorino-romano 

Leftover wine.  I hardly even know myself anymore.

Anyway, saute garlic in butter in a large skillet until golden.

Add clam juice, wine, pepper, and salt.  Simmer for 5 minutes, until slightly reduced.

Add half of the freshly grated parmesan or pecorino-romano, stir.  I use a Zyliss Rotary Grater and do it right over the pan.  Do you have one of these?  It might seem like a really specific and therefore frivolous kitchen gadget, but it's not.  You need one.  If I can't convince you, then the fact that every server at Olive Garden is equipped with one should do it.  Because Olive Garden is the undeniable leading authority on authentic Italian pasta.

In all seriousness, freshly grated cheese from a high quality wedge is much tastier than pre-grated "parmesan" that comes in a tub, or - gasp! - a shaker can (and more economical, in the tub's case).

I have strong feelings about cheese, and good kitchen gadgets for cheese (here's my other must-have grater.  Yes, you need two graters, at least).  Okay, back to the Linguine.

Add clams, stir till hot, and then add drained linguine directly to the skillet.  Toss.  Let it cook for 2 or 3 minutes.  The starch from the pasta thickens the sauce a bit.  Sprinkle on the parsley.

Serve immediately, adding the remaining parmesan to the top.  Or just put your favorite kitchen gadget on the table and let everyone have the fun of giving the Zyliss a few turns.

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