There's two ways of preparing the classic pasta alle vongole dish: in bianco or in rosso. The 'white' version is typically more common in Northern Italy with plenty of oil, garlic, parsley and occasionally white wine. In Southern regions you'll often see this dish served with tomatoes and basil - both are delicious but I tend to favor the former. In both versions the briny juices from the clams help flavor this brothy sauce and like all ingredients, the fresher the clams, the better the sauce.
This is one of those recipes I love because you make the sauce in the time that it takes the pasta to cook. So quick and easy, you don't even really need to follow a recipe for but I figured I had to blog about it because it's become a weekly dish that I make. The most important part of making this dish a success is actually getting all of the sand out of the clams. There is nothing worse than preparing a delicious meal and then realizing your crunching down on sand - yuck. Make sure you soak them in cold water for about 30 minutes and then really scrubbing them.
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
1 pound of manila clams (these are the smallest and fastest to open)
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 pound linguine
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup chopped Italian parsley
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for the pasta. While cooking the pasta, be sure to have all of your ingredients out and ready as this meal goes very quickly.
While the pasta is cooking, in a large pan, begin cooking the minced garlic and red pepper flakes in olive oil. Just as the garlic starts to color, add all of the clams (it should sizzle loudly), the wine and 1/2 cup of pasta water. Cover the pan, keep the heat on high and cook about 2 minutes until all of the clams open (if any of them don't open, toss them, they're bad). Set aside the opened clams into a bowl.
Raise the heat on the pan with the clam liquid and allow to reduce; add the butter and stir to make a silky sauce. Place the al dente linguine into the sauce, raise the heat to high and add all the parsley and cook for another 30 seconds.
Plate your pasta and top with the clams. You can add parmesan, some people don't believe in mixing cheese and seafood but I love it!