Grandma Zaino’s Linguine with Clam Sauce

By Francescap
May 31, 2014
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Author Notes:

This dish is a staple at the Pardo family’s Christmas Eve (and many other times throughout the year). Francesca’s Grandmother used littleneck clams, which are less than 2 inches in diameter. They are more tender.


Serves: 4 to 6

  • 1.5 pounds little neck clams, scrubbed
  • course salt
  • 1 pound linguine
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 dried chili pepper (small), crumbled or pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup fresh clam juice, strained
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 2 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley, coarsely chopped, plus whole leaves for garnish
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • freshly ground black pepper
  1. Place the clams in a sink filled with cold water. Scrub the shells well with a coarse brush to remove any sand. Drain the water and refill the sink with clean water to soak the clams, repeating until the water remains clean.
  2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil; salt generously. Add the linguini, and cook until slightly underdone, about 7 minutes. Reserve 1 cup of pasta water before draining the pasta. Set both aside.
  3. While the pasta water is boiling, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and chile pepper; cook until the garlic is very lightly browned. Add the clams, clam juice, and white wine, and raise the heat to high. Bring to a boil; cover, and cook, shaking occasionally, 2 to 3 minutes, until the clams open. Stir in the parsley. Remove from heat, and transfer to a bowl, discarding any clams that have not opened; set aside.
  4. Return the skillet to medium-high heat. Add the butter and let it melt. Add the clam mixture and linguine. Cook over medium-low heat until heated through, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the reserved pasta water a little at a time if the pasta is dry. Transfer to a large serving bowl, season with salt and pepper, and garnish with parsley.

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