Linguine with white clam sauce was on the menu every single Friday of my adolescent life. Slippery noodles smothered in garlic and olive oil and then topped with a generous serving of fresh littleneck clams. The only accompaniment was a large piece of warm Italian bread, torn at the table by hand, to sop up all the briny broth that collected in the bottom of the bowl.
In the summer, the sweetness of the clams is enough to knock you over. Close the grill for a night and celebrate the coming weekend with an enormous bowl, enjoy.
1 pound Linguine
4 cloves garlic-thinly sliced
1 yellow onion finely chopped
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 dozen little neck clams *CLEANED*
1 bottle clam juice
1 pint chopped fresh clams
1 head of broccoli rabe (optional but delicious)
Freshly torn parsley, Basil and oregano
2 tablespoons butter to finish the sauce
Salt and pepper to taste
Pinch of red pepper flakes
For the clams- you will need to soak in ICE COLD water, in twenty minute increments, 2-3 times in order to ensure they spit out every grain of sand. Once this is done rinse under water and set aside in a colander.
For the broccoli rabe- (if using) bring a large pot of sea salted water to boil and add the trimmed head of broccoli rabe. Cook until tender about 8 minutes and transfer to an ice bath * a medium sized bowl placed in a larger sized bowl floating with ice and cold water-this will stop the cooking and ensure perfectly tender broccoli rabe.
…OK lets get going
In a Dutch oven or large, heavy bottomed pot over medium-high heat, add the olive and onion and sauté until softened, add the thinly sliced garlic and continue to cook for a minute longer. At this point you can add the chopped clams and clam juice and simmer for ten-twelve minutes.
Put your pasta water up to boil with plenty of sea salt. Cook the linguine according to package directions, reserving 2 cups of cooking liquid.
Next take your extra, squeaky clean whole clams and add to the pot cover and continue to cook until all the shells are open. Discard any that do not open. Now if using, you can add the cooked broccoli rabe and sauté with the clam sauce.
Because you are an awesome multi-tasker, your linguine should be perfectly al dente by now so go ahead and add the cooked pasta to the clam sauce and toss well. You can now add any salt, pepper, red pepper and the two tablespoons of butter to the dish. Continue to toss the linguine adding the parsley, basil and oregano. If you find that there is not enough broth and the pasta is dry, slowly add the reserved pasta cooking liquid one tablespoon at a time until moist. I actually prefer mine drenched in clam juice and sauce, almost soupy! Enjoy with a nice glass of wine and a large piece of warm Italian bread torn right there at the table.