Clam Pantry Pasta

February 21, 2014
3 Ratings
  • Serves 1 to 2
Author Notes

When I am hungry and want something salty and savory, I can tell you this:
Ingredients that normal kitchens usually stock (potatoes, onions, carrots, chicken broth, etc.) are absent from my kitchen as I don't cook on a regular basis and my kitchen was never really normal to begin with.

What I can tell you is: My kitchen always has garlic and red pepper flakes (one of the advantages of being Korean), salt (I blame my husband for my addiction to it), salted butter (I don't want to get into it), olive oil (total staple that my Korean mother never used. Go figure.), a jar of anchovies packed in olive oil (the credit for this goes to Jamie Oliver. He assured me, via television, that the anchovy will become nutty after sauteing it for a bit and he was right!!), a can of clams (I've come to the conclusion that I sometimes shop as if we are on the verge of a zombie apocalypse. I was never raised on this product so I find it peculiar that I load up on these whenever it's on sale.), a box of pasta like linguine or spaghetti (they are ALWAYS on sale. How could I not buy them? I tend to like the Barilla Spaghetti Rigati because it makes me believe that the ridges will make the sauce adhere more. Just my belief.)

I made this for a friend once and she LOVED it. She tried to replicate it but confessed it was not as good as what I made for her. Her fault was that she underestimated the scant number of ingredients involved and the ease of this recipe. The key to this recipe is low key. Don't try to get all fancy because the beauty of this dish is the simplicity of it.

If you have these ingredients on hand, you're in for a cozy night in sexily swirling your pasta with your fork while watching "The Walking Dead". —NotEnoughMomentsOfBrilliance

Test Kitchen Notes

Very Italian in its simplicity, this recipe is a good reason to add canned clams to your pantry repertoire. The anchovies, garlic, and red pepper infuse the fats, giving you a heady sauce that's sure to perk up a cold winter night. Plus, it comes together in the time it takes to cook the pasta. I especially liked it on my favorite pasta shape, bucatini. —chez_mere

What You'll Need
  • 3 large cloves of garlic or 4 wimpy ones
  • 3 fillets of anchovies packed in olive oil. Please don't scrape the olive oil off.
  • 1 teaspoon anchovy-infused oil, from the jar of anchovies
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes. This is a perfect amount of heat for me. Use more or less depending on your heat tolerance.
  • 1 tablespoon salted butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/3 pound dried pasta such as spaghetti or linguine
  • 1 can of clams in juices. Do not drain.
  • Salt
  1. Salt a pot of water and bring to a boil. Think Nigella Lawson when you salt the water. It must be salty like the sea. If you are good with timing in the kitchen (a function I completely lack), then you can go ahead to preparing the sauce while cooking the pasta. I, on the other hand, refrain from cooking the pasta until I feel I am confident to combine the components of this dish without overcooking my pasta or undercooking the sauce. Just remember to cook the pasta 1 to 2 minutes less than the instructions because it will continue to cook when you are tossing it in the sauce -- and I hate pasta that is not al dente, don't you?
  2. While water boiling (or pasta is cooking), in a pan over medium heat, melt butter with olive oil and anchovy oil.
  3. Add the garlic. This may be the only part of dish where I try to make it "fancy." If I feel like putting the effort in, I slice the garlic cloves as thin as I can. In my head, I revert to iconic scene of the movie "Goodfellas" where Pauli slices the garlic using a razor blade and the garlic just melts in the sauce. That is what I aim for when I do this. I want the garlic to melt. -- but minced garlic will do just fine.
  4. While garlic is sizzling away, add red pepper flakes. When the oil starts to turn a little red, add anchovy fillets. Break up the fillets with a spoon while cooking. It starts to look like olive tapenade, but then the anchovies just melt away.
  5. Add the canned clams with the juices. Cook for 3 minutes or so. You want the clams juices to reduce by a third. If your pasta still is nowhere near done, then do what I do and take the pan off the heat until you think pasta is almost done. If you are a professional at the whole kitchen-timing thing and the stars in universe are aligned, then by all means, take the pasta and toss it in the sauce while the sauce continues to cook down. If you find that the pasta is too dry then add pasta water as needed. For those like me, bring the pan back to the heat once you think your pasta is almost done. Toss pasta in the sauce for 2 to 3 minutes. Salt to taste. The pasta should be perfectly al dente. If more cooking is required, just remember to ladle more pasta water if needed. You don't want bone-dry pasta, but rather a nice amount of sauce to drizzle a bit on top of the dish or lap up with some nice crusty bread!
  6. I never have parsley around unless I am hell-bent on doing a recipe that includes it but if you have fresh parsley lying around, just a little for garnish will make it look so nice when you plate.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Regine
  • Lisa
  • Sarah Thomas
    Sarah Thomas
  • NotEnoughMomentsOfBrilliance

7 Reviews

Lisa December 8, 2022
I love this dish. I'm Korean too, and this has an umami that is very reminiscent of some of my mom's soups (된장찌개, for example). I just made it again but with udon and it is so bomb, I think I'm going to stick with udon from now on.
Lisa, thank you for the udon substitution idea. I am so glad you love this dish :)
Sarah T. January 2, 2020
Made this last night and fed it to a pack of hungry teenage boys after tripling the recipe. So easy, so yummy! Everyone loved it. I'm adding it to my regular rotation of last minute recipes.
This is wonderful to hear! Glad you and the boys liked it!
Regine March 13, 2014
This pasta is so good. To feed my family of four, however, I did 3 times this recipe, assuming you meant 1/3 lb of pasta as per your ingredients. So I used 1 lb of pasta and 3x everything else. The sauce is delicious. Thanks for sharing.
Regine, Thank you for letting me know your thoughts! I will fix that mistake. You are correct - I meant 1/3 box of pasta which is pretty much 1/3 lb. I am very sorry for that!
Regine February 23, 2014
Wow. I will make this recipe this week. Must be super delish. However, for practicality purposes (pasta usually comes in 1 lb boxes and most people cook for more than 1 person) and contest purposes, I would revise recipe for a box of 1 lb pasta. I will do 3x this recipe (1 lb) for my family of 4: and since we love pasta, it might be just barely sufficient. Thanks.