Linguine with Littleneck Clams, Roasted Tomatoes and Caramelized Garlic

Kudos and a huge thanks to Melissa Clark at the NY times for this wonderful recipe, now in the running to replace Mr TBTAM’s signature recipe as our family classic clam sauce. (I now realize I have never posted Mt TBTAM’s clam sauce recipe, but promise to do so – I actually have a video of him making it.)

This meal was one of several that came from a Saturday morning bike trip to the Union Square Farmer’s Market (I’ll post that too), where we found gorgeous cherry tomatoes and fresh garlic. The herbs came from our own container garden. Gradually, we’re shifting away from stocking the fridge at the supermarket to getting fresh things at the farmers market when we can, and tailoring our week’s dinners around that. It makes for a more empty fridge throughout the week as we work our way through what’s there while it’s still fresh. I like it.

Linguine with Littleneck Clams, Roasted Tomatoes and Garlic

The recipe I’m posting here is Melissa’s recipe with a few modifications  – Mr TBTAM doctored it up at his mother Irene’s suggestion, she having made it herself the week before. Their changes were to add a can of clams (to get more clam-flavored broth), increase the garlic from 14 to 20 cloves  (it’s roasted, so don’t worry, it’s not too much) and adding fresh basil and parsley instead of mint. 

You may want to make the original recipe instead of our version. Either way, be sure to read and the accompanying article explaining the traditional Italian method of saucing pasta and why it’s done that way. I think there may be a way to shorten the recipe a bit and keep to tradition, what with all the taking of things out of and back into the pasta pot. Suggestions in this vein are welcome.

We served the dish with a side of sauteed kale, a salad and warm loaf of crusty bread for dipping in the wonderful sauce. 

20 garlic cloves
2 pints cherry tomatoes
1/4 cup chopped basil
6 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
Salt to taste
1 pound dry linguine
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes or 1-2 small dried red peppers
1/2 cup dry white wine
4 dozen littleneck clams, scrubbed
1 can minced clams
1/4 cup chopped parsley (plus more for garnish)

Heat the oven to 450 degrees. Smash and peel 12 garlic cloves; peel and finely chop the remaining 8. Toss the smashed garlic with the tomatoes, basil, 2 tablespoons oil, salt,and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Spread out in a layer in one or two baking pans (make sure they aren’t too crowded, so they don’t steam) and roast the tomatoes, tossing occasionally, until they split open, 15 to 20 minutes.

Cook the pasta in a large pot of salted water until it is 2 minutes from being done to taste. Drain.

Return the pasta pot to medium-high heat. Warm 4 tablespoons oil in the pot. Add the chopped garlic and red pepper flakes; cook for 30 seconds. Add the wine and let simmer 2 minutes. Stir in the roasted tomatoes and garlic. Add the clams. Cover the pot and cook until the clams open, 5 to 10 minutes. Use tongs to transfer open clams to a bowl; discard any that do not open.

Add the pasta and 3/4 teaspoon black pepper to the sauce in the pot. Cook, tossing, until pasta is just cooked through. Return the clams to the pot and toss with the pasta and parsley. Divide mixture among serving bowls. Garnish with a little more parsley if you want and drizzle with more oil.

9 Responses to Linguine with Littleneck Clams, Roasted Tomatoes and Caramelized Garlic

  1. My husband and I were fortunate enough to have the winning bid last year at Slow Food USA’s auction whereby Melissa would come to our home with 2 chickens and make dinner for 6 of us. She came in June. What a tiny ball of fire, lots of fun to be around, and a very sweet person to boot. She also brought us a galley copy of her new cook book coming out this month I think. I have spent the summer going through it, recipe by recipe. And there are some GREAT recipes in it. I think I’m getting the sense of yours and Mr. TBTAM’s tastes, and you’d both love her new book.

  2. I’ve been passing bags of Littlenecks at the grocery store because I’m bored with steaming them. This, however, is now on my list to make IMMEDIATELY. Hopefully I’ll be able to find clams. They’re kind of hit or miss here in VA.

  3. Yes, it is a delicious and simple clam recipe. I did use the recipe’s recommendation for 2 dozen clams when I made only 1/2 lb of linguine. My addition of the canned clams was not a substitution but to make it a little clammier and juicier in case the clams didn’t give off enough juice. However, there was plenty of juice from the tomatoes and the fresh clams to make a very adequate sauce. The canned clams just gave it a little more intensity. Incidentally, I threw in some fresh basil leaves as I roasted the tomatoes and the chopped parsley went on the finished dish. Definitely a keeper.

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