Linguine con Vongole

January 15, 2010
1 Ratings
Photo by Karen Mordechai
  • Serves 1
Author Notes

Many years ago when I was in Italy on vacation, I had Linguine con Vongole and fell in love with its simplicity. I rarely resist it now if I see in on a menu and have made many versions of it at home. I honestly don't think I'm breaking any new ground here, but it's my #1 favorite dish to have when I'm home alone. So satisfying. This is my latest version of the dish. I typically remove the clams from the shell so that I don't have to take the time to do this as I'm eating, but you can leave them in the shells if you prefer. The ingredient amounts are my interpretation of a pinch of this and a pinch of that when I'm making it, but the rule of thumb I use when making this is equal amounts of salt, pepper and sugar, and a little less of red pepper flakes and oregano. So I invite you to taste it at the end and adjust as needed. —TheWimpyVegetarian

Test Kitchen Notes

WHO: ChezSuzanne is an avid home cook -- and a cooking teacher, to boot.
WHAT: What just may be the perfect bowl of pasta for one.
HOW: You make a light, flavorful sauce with sausage, garlic, roasted jalapeno, tomato, aromatics, and clam broth, then toss it with your cooked pasta and clams.
WHY WE LOVE IT: Each bite brings something chewy, salty, meaty, acidic, and rich; this is far from a simple, one-note bowl of pasta. ChezSuzanne says she could eat it every night, and we'd have to agree. —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • 1 dozen fresh clams (I used Littleneck)
  • 1 handful of pasta noodles, enough for 1 serving (linguine or spaghetti noodles works well here)
  • 1/3 of a large sausage link that has fennel and garlic in it (Each sausage link is around 1/3 pound at Whole Foods)
  • 5 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 jalapeno pepper (optional)
  • 2 tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon seasoned pepper, divided
  • 1/16 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/16-1/8 teaspoons dried oregano
  • lemon
  • 1 tablespoon parmesan cheese, finely grated
  • 2 tablespoons flat leaf parsley, leaves only, coarsely chopped
  1. Clean the clams of all grit and heat 2"of water to salted boiling in a wide pan. Put the clams in the hot water and cover. It should take about 5 minutes for them all to open. Immediately remove the clams from the pan, remove the clams from the shells, coarsely chop and set aside. Reserve shells for dish decoration. Reserve the clam broth in the pan.
  2. Heat a large pot of salted water to boiling. Cook the pasta according to the directions on its box.
  3. Cook the sausage over medium - high heat and crumble. Set aside. If you plan to add the jalapeno pepper, place the whole jalapeno in a dry pan and roast over medium-high heat. Once the skin is mostly blackened, remove, pop into a small bag for 5 minutes. Peel, seed and dice. I tend to add various roasted peppers to a lot of things to bring a little heat to a dish and some smoky earthiness. But this dish works well without the jalapeno too.
  4. Lightly salt the garlic and saute it in the rendered fat from the sausage. Add a little olive oil if needed. Once the garlic is just turning golden, add the diced roasted jalapeno pepper (if you're using it), diced tomatoes and a ladle-full of clam broth from the pot you cooked the clams in. I put in enough clam broth to create a very soupy sauce. Add the salt, sugar, red pepper flakes, oregano and half of the seasoned pepper, and cook until the clam broth has reduced by one third. Add the cooked sausage and clams. Toss around to rewarm, but not long enough to start cooking the clams again. Nothing is worse in this dish than rubbery overcooked clams. At the end I do a couple squeezes of lemon slices to balance the acid.
  5. When the pasta is cooked, I toss it lightly in olive oil, sprinkle some parmasan cheese and a little seasoned pepper on top of it and toss it again, but this step is optional. Then I pour the clams / sausage / tomato sauce over it. You can arrange the reserved shells on the dish for presentation. As a last touch, I sprinkle the chopped flat-leaf parsley on top before sitting down to eat.
  6. Serve with some crusty bread and a salad. You know, I might need to make this again tonight. I'm getting hungry for it again!
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24 Reviews

Betsy February 9, 2016
Have been cooking a long time and have never made a pasta dish this good. I have made it many times always to rave reviews. Even cheated and used canned clams. Delicious!!
Fred A. June 25, 2015
You are gilding the lily with the spices. Only needs the garlic, the heat, a little anchovy for salt and a couple of tablespoons of tomato sauce.
HRH June 23, 2015
I just wanted to say, this has become an absolute favorite of mine! I make it often, and it never disappoints. Thanks so much for this delicious, reliable recipe!
Petite F. February 12, 2014
very tasty!!
Joe C. September 7, 2013
I just made this recipe with half the jalapeño and half the crushed red pepper and it was still too spicy. I am a spicy food lover, but to me, it's a shame to cover up the delicate flavor of the clams with too much spicy heat. The predominant flavors (again even with having used half of the the called for spicy ingredients) were pepper and sausage. The clam was sadly buried.
Lizthechef August 16, 2012
How did I miss this 2 years ago? It is my favorite pasta to order - now I will make it. Your photography has come so far in 2 years, yes? Congrats!
TheWimpyVegetarian August 16, 2012
Thanks Liz. You likely missed it because of my sucky photo :-). These were the days before I had a camera, and Myles was out of town for something that he just had to take his camera to. So my fuzzy, dark photo was taken with an old cell phone (pre-iphone). I figured it was better than nothing, but I'm still not sure about that :-).
stephanieRD August 16, 2012
Wow I will definitely want to make this for the weekend!
TheWimpyVegetarian August 16, 2012
Thanks Stephanie! Making it tonight!!
TheWimpyVegetarian August 16, 2012
Wow!! Thanks so much for the Wildcard Win!! I'm really excited! Linguini con Vongole is one of my very favorite dishes - if it's on the menu, I have to order it!
lastnightsdinner August 16, 2012
Wow, this is fabulous - congrats!
TheWimpyVegetarian August 16, 2012
Thanks LND!! Hope you've been having a great summer :-)
Meatballs&Milkshakes August 16, 2012
Yum! I love linguine with clams and this version looks beautiful! I love the addition of sausage, it's like pasta surf and turf!
TheWimpyVegetarian August 16, 2012
Thanks so much M&M!! I'm really excited this simple pasta dish was chosen. I love the idea of pasta surf and turf :-)
dymnyno August 16, 2012
Congrats on the Wildcard win! It's a great recipe for one or usually more.
TheWimpyVegetarian August 16, 2012
ALWAYS more. This was for the contest of best recipe for being home alone. Thanks so much for the Congrats - by freaky coincidence I'm making this for dinner tonight :-)
inpatskitchen August 16, 2012
Hearty congrats on the Wildcard win!! I must try this Italian sausage!
TheWimpyVegetarian August 16, 2012
Thanks Pat! I'm stunned, quite honestly - but in a really good way. This is my comfort dish on a plate any night of the week :-)
aargersi January 19, 2010
Yum, linguini and clams are one of earth's perfect meals. Love the idea of roasted peppers in there too ... this may just be my next home alone meal!!! Thanks!!!
TheWimpyVegetarian January 19, 2010
Thanks!! Of all the meals I made for myself last week while my husband traveled, this one was my favorite. Enjoy!
TasteFood January 15, 2010
I love linguine con vongole, too, and like your idea of adding the fennel sausage. It sounds delicious.
TheWimpyVegetarian January 15, 2010
Thanks so much!
melissav January 15, 2010
Linguine con Vongole is one of my favorite, hard to resist on the menu, dishes as well! I'll have to try your rendition the next time I'm home alone.
TheWimpyVegetarian January 15, 2010
Thanks - hope you enjoy it.