As someone who loves seafood and regularly eats fish, it has taken me until this recipe to cook with clams. Perhaps I was intimidated, perhaps I was not able to access fresh clams, whatever excuse I will offer up, I just had never done it. And now I am wondering why it took me so long. Why? They are so simple to cook; in fact, they’re fun to cook. To hear the “smoaaak” sound they make when they pop open while in the skillet reminds me of a simple magic trick, and oh, my goodness they just add that extra something to an already delicious sauce.
Easy to make in fewer than 20 minutes, update your classic clam and linguini recipe with New Orleans chef Nina Compton’s Spaghetti Vongole and indulge in comfort.
~Key to remember with clams, only buy tightly closed, and if after you cook them the allotted time and they don’t open, toss those that are still closed.
- kosher salt
- 1 large clove garlic finely chopped
- 1/3 cup fresh parsley roughly chopped
- 1 medium lemon (juice and zest)
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 cup red onion minced
- 1 teaspoon chili flakes
- 1/2 pound spaghetti
- 16 clams rinsed
- 1 tablespoon butter
- In a large pot of salted water, bring to boil over high heat.
- While waiting for the water, make the gremolata in a food processor: include 1/2 of the garlic (chopped roughly), parsley, and lemon zest until evenly combined. Season with salt. Scoop into a small bowl and set aside.
- Heat remaining garlic and olive oil in a large, lidded (to prevent splatter) sauté pan over medium heat. Sauté garlic until aromatic but not yet coloring, about 2 minutes. Add onions and sauté until translucent, about 4 minutes. Stir in chili flakes.
- Add spaghetti to boiling water and cook, according to package directions until just shy of al dente. Drain spaghetti, reserving 1 cup pasta water.
- Meanwhile, lightly season onion mixture with salt. Increase heat to medium-high and add clams. Stir to coat shells and cover pan (preferably a glass cover so you can see the magic). Cook until clams just pop open, about 5 minutes. Uncover pan, remove from heat and discard any clams that remain tightly closed. Stir in half of gremolata.
- Once spaghetti is boiled and drained, return clams to stove over medium-high heat. Once hot, add spaghetti, a few splashes reserved pasta water and butter, and toss to form a creamy sauce, about 1 minute. If pan looks dry, add water until sauce coats noodles. Off heat, toss in remaining gremolata and season with lemon juice and salt. Enjoy!