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Classic Linguine with Clam Sauce

Scott Phillips

Servings: 4 to 6

Garlicky and comforting, this pasta dish is a perennial crowd pleaser. A bit of crushed red pepper flake is a welcome addition for those who like it hot.


  • 4 lb. littleneck or Manila clams, or cockles
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine, such as Pinot Grigio
  • 1 lb. linguine or spaghetti
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 to 3 medium cloves garlic, minced
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 Tbs. finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes (optional)

Nutritional Information

  • Calories (kcal) : 530
  • Fat Calories (kcal): 180
  • Fat (g): 21
  • Saturated Fat (g): 3
  • Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 2.5
  • Monounsaturated Fat (g): 13
  • Cholesterol (mg): 30
  • Sodium (mg): 880
  • Carbohydrates (g): 60
  • Fiber (g): 3
  • Protein (g): 22


  • Scrub the clams under cold running water, then place in a deep bowl and cover with cool water. Add 2 Tbs. salt and swirl with your hands to dissolve the salt. Let sit for about 30 minutes at room temperature to purge any grit.
  • Without disturbing the sediment in the bowl, transfer the clams to a colander and rinse with cold water. Discard any open clams that don’t close when tapped.
  • Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a rolling boil.
  • Put the clams and wine in a heavy-duty 5- to 6-quart pot. Cover and cook over medium-high heat, shaking the pot occasionally, until the clams have opened, 7 to 10 minutes.
  • Remove from the heat, uncover, and let sit until cool enough to handle, about 5 minutes. Transfer the clams from their shells to a medium bowl, leaving a few intact for garnish, if you like. If using littlenecks, remove the tough adductor muscles on each side of each clam. Discard any clams that didn’t open during cooking.
  • Strain the cooking liquid through a sieve lined with dampened cheesecloth or paper towels into the bowl. Rinse and dry the pot.
  • Cook the pasta in the boiling water, stirring occasionally, until slightly firmer than al dente, about 1 minute less than package directions. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta water, and drain.
  • Meanwhile, warm 1/4 cup of the oil and the garlic in the clam pot over medium-high heat until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the clams, including the ones in shells, if using, and the cooking liquid, and bring to a simmer. Season with 1/2 tsp. each salt and pepper. Keep warm on low heat.
  • Add the drained pasta, the remaining 1/4 cup oil, the parsley, and red pepper flakes, if using, to the sauce. Cook over high heat for 1 minute to meld the flavors, thinning out the sauce as needed with some of the reserved pasta water. The pasta should be moist and well coated with sauce. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Distribute among shallow bowls, and serve.


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Reviews (4 reviews)

  • th2 | 05/11/2016

    Sometimes simple is the best as this recipe proves. The only modification I recommend is to substitute clam juice (purchased in most grocery stores) for the 1/4 cup pasta water. The change gives the meal a little flavor boost.

  • kesaco | 08/25/2014

    I doubled the linguini and ran into trouble. It needed the 1 cup of reserved pasta water and then some. It was a bit too dry. Final cooking to "meld the flavors" makes the clams tough. I should have left them out and added at finish. I too added butter to the olive oil. I didn't think of adding onion with the garlic. That would have made a difference. This recipe lacks pop. I was expecting more flavor.

  • bimbels | 07/15/2014

    So I chose this recipe to try because my husband likes his linguine with clams brothy. To make sure it was extra brothy - I used 24 clams for only 2 people (my husband goes clamming so we have an infinite supply.) We had leftovers - so if I were to make it again for 4 people, I would probably use 36 clams just to make enough broth for hubby. Other changes I made: I added a couple of tablespoons of butter to the olive oil, and I added a finely chopped onion and sauted that first, before adding the garlic and continuing with the recipe. It was AMAZING. This will now be my go-to linguine with clams.

  • CathyZ | 07/06/2014

    It was the best linguine and clams that I have ever made. I did cut the recipe in half since there were only 2 of us.

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