This delightful dish features juicy fresh clams. You will need to clean them before cooking them. The easiest way to clean clams is to let them soak for ten minutes in a bowl of cold water. Drain them and sprinkle coarse salt over them. Then scrub handfuls of them against one another to remove any dirt, taking care not to break the shells. Rinse them then soak in cold water. Drain them just before adding to the pan.
As well as the linguine and clams, the recipe is flavored with garlic, fennel seeds, a little wine, a touch of chili, and some anchovy filets. The cherry tomatoes are not part of the traditional linguine alle vongole recipe you will find in an authentic Italian restaurant but many people like to add then because the slightly sweet flavor they have counteracts with the salty clams, and they also add color to the dish. You can crush them with the back of a wooden spoon while this recipe cooks if you want to break them down some more, or else either cook them whole, or leave them out altogether.
Linguine with clam sauce makes a lovely dinner, especially when paired with some crusty Italian bread. Save some of the Sauvignon Blanc you use in the recipe and serve a glass with the meal.
- ½ lb linguine
- Small handful roughly chopped fresh basil
- ½ cup Sauvignon Blanc or similar dry white wine
- 2 thinly sliced garlic cloves
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 lb small fresh clams
- ¼ teaspoon fennel seeds
- 4 anchovy filets
- 6 cherry tomatoes
- ¼ teaspoon red chili flakes
- Salt, to taste
- Bring a pot of water to a boil and add a pinch of salt.
- Drop in the linguine.
- Meanwhile, gently heat the oil in a skillet, and then add the fennel seeds, chili, and garlic.
- Cook for 2 minutes.
- Stir in the anchovies and let them melt into the oil for a minute.
- Squeeze the cherry tomatoes between your fingers just until the skins burst.
- Add them to the skillet, and then turn the heat down to medium-low.
- Cook for 4 minutes, then take the pan off the heat and let it rest for a few minutes.
- Turn the heat back on and add the wine to the pan.
- Boil for 2 minutes or until reduced by half.
- Add the clams and cover the pan.
- Cook for 2 minutes or until the clams are open, discarding any which do not open.
- Turn off the heat and stir in the basil.
- The linguine should be about done by now, so drain it if so, and then divide it between 3 bowls.
- Top with the clam mixture.
Linguine with clam sauce, or linguine alle vongole as it is known in Italy, is a special treat. This light, summery dish is always popular in Italian restaurants and there are various ways to make it yourself at home. Not everyone likes to add cherry tomatoes to the recipe, although they add attractive blobs of color as well as a touch of sweetness, and a few decades ago home cooks would have thrown in a can of tomatoes and a handful of parsley when making this. You have to take care when making delicate clam dishes though, not to overpower the flavor of the seafood. Let the clams be the star of the show by using this recipe the next time you fancy linguine with clam sauce, because it works really nicely.
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