You can't expect to talk about the cuisine of an area like Campagna without touching on some delicious seafood dishes. Linguine with Clams, or Linguine alle Vongole, is a simple, straight-forward dish. It might almost seem boring, since it is essentially just some clams cooked in oil and garlic thrown together with some pasta. However, I have found that many of the more simplistic dishes are often the best because they allow for truly high quality ingredients to speak for themselves. Here, the clams make or break the dish, so by getting really fresh seafood, you are able to make a delicious meal without all that much effort. While the recipe that I use says to steam the clams on their own, I prefer to steam them in the sauce that I am making so that they absorb more of the flavor. Plus, it's fun to serve the pasta with the clams still in their shells rather than already taken out of them.
Aside from when to cook the clams, the recipe for Linguine with Clams is often the cause for debate. Some people maintain that it should be served with a white sauce of wine, garlic, parsley, and the clam's own juices. Others contend that the dish should be served with tomatoes -generally sliced cherry tomatoes. Rather than get involved in a argument that will never be resolved, I chose to split my dish and make half with a white sauce, and half with a tomato sauce using crushed tomatoes (since that's what I had on hand). Which version of Linguine alle Vongole do you prefer?
Linguine with Clams/Linguine alle Vongole
2-3 pounds littleneck clams
1 pound linguine
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons chopped parsley
Optional - 1/2 cup crushed tomatoes or 1/2 cup sliced cherry tomatoes.
- Scrub the clams to ensure that they are clean. Place in a bowl with warm water and salt to draw out any sand left in them. Let them sit for an hour. Remove any clams that are already open.
- Bring a pot of water to boil and cook the pasta to al dente.
- While the pasta cooks, heat the olive oil in a large pan. Add the garlic and cook for just a minute so that it doesn't burn.
- Add the clams to the pan. If you are using tomatoes, this is the time to add them as well. Cover, and cook for about 3 minutes over medium-high heat until the clams are open. Remove any clams that do not open. Toss with the pasta.
- Garnish with parsley and serve hot.
Ryan's rating of Linguine with Clams - 4 for both variations.