In the summertime, I like a bowl of spaghetti with clams for dinner. And I like the clams to bathe in a sauce of olive oil, parsley, enough garlic and red pepper flakes to get your attention, and a dousing of lemon juice so the flavors feel crisp. But it's sometimes difficult to get enough lemon flavor without watering down the sauce. I solved this problem by adding slivers of preserved lemon, which grant the sauce the powerful fragrance of lemons, but barely a drop of juice -- think of it as lemon squared.
Spaghetti with Clams, Parsley, Garlic, and Lemon (x2)
- 1/4 cup olive oil, plus more for serving
- 3 medium garlic cloves, smashed and chopped
- 2 small shallots, thinly sliced
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 24 littleneck clams
- 1 pound spaghetti
- 1 cup chopped flatleaf parsley
- 1/4 cup chopped basil
- 2 teaspoons finely chopped preserved lemon rind
- 1 lemon, halved
1. Fill a large pot with water, salt it like mad, and place it over high heat to bring to a boil while you prepare the clams.
2. Pour the oil into a deep, large saucepan. Place over medium heat. When the oil begins to shimmer, add the garlic and shallots and cook until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the red pepper flakes (if you’re sensitive to heat, start with 1/8 teaspoon). Add the clams, cover the pot and raise the heat to medium high. If the pan is too dry, add a splash of wine. Cook until the clams open, and remove them as they do; transfer to a plate. (At this point, you can decide whether or not to serve the pasta with the clams in their shells or removed from them.). Set the saucepan off the heat until just before serving.
3. Add the spaghetti to the boiling water and cook until al dente, about 6 minutes.
4. Drain the spaghetti and add it to the clam sauce. Set over medium heat. Toss together, adding the parsley, basil and preserved lemon. Squeeze in lemon juice to taste. (Adjust the salt if needed.) Spread the spaghetti on a large serving platter, scatter the clams on top and pour over any juices that have collected on the plate holding the clams. Serve it forth.