This has to be one of my all time favorite pasta dishes. There is nothing quite like Linguine made with a fresh clam sauce. Back in the 70’s there was a place in Little Italy in New York City called Umberto’s Clam House. They opened up a location right in my neighborhood in Brooklyn on 86th Street. They made some of the best Linguine with clams I have ever had. Each dish was made to order, using fresh whole clams and even cooking the pasta to order. I rarely order pasta when I go out to eat. I have all I want at home. But when I visited Umberto’s, Linguine with Clams was a destination dish.
The secret to this dish is using only fresh ingredients, pure and simple. Get your hands on the freshest Little Neck clams available. Use a good quality olive oil and pasta. And use only fresh parsley. A touch of white wine, garlic and a hint of oregano bring this dish together. It’s heaven on a plate.
Linguine with Clams
- 1 pound linguine
- 45-50 Little Neck clams, washed and scrubbed well*
- 4 cloves garlic, crushed
- 2 tablespoons dry white wine
- pinch of dried oregano
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- kosher salt
- ground black pepper
- red pepper flakes (optional)
*The clams see to it themselves that there is no dirt or grit inside their home. Any grit you may get comes from the outside of the clam, so be sure you scrub the clams well under running water with a good stiff brush. 45-50 clams will produce enough liquid for a pound of pasta. I promise, it will not be dry.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the Linguine and cook till tender.
In the meantime, in a large, deep pan, cook the garlic in the olive oil over medium heat for about 1 minute or until the garlic just turns golden.
Add the whole clams, white wine, and oregano.
Cover the pan and simmer over low heat, shaking the pan occasionally to ensure the clams cook evenly. Once all the clams open and release their juices, immediately remove from heat and salt to taste.
When the spaghetti is al dente, strain and place in a large bowl or platter, then pour the clams and juices over the pasta, add the chopped parsley, and if desired, ground black pepper and red pepper flakes.
Toss gently and serve immediately with grated Parmesan cheese. Have a large empty bowl on the side for the clam shells.