Once the ingredients are prepped, the meal comes together very quickly. While the pasta cooks, the clams, garlic, parsley, white wine, and lemon juice simmer, doing their job effortlessly in a separate pan. Hopefully you'll feel like a hero as you toss the pasta with the clams (or at least I did that night, now many years ago). Most of the time, all of the clams open and the result is very satisfying, and a wonderful surprise if you’ve got an audience of small children.
Adapted and tweaked over the years from an old Gourmet recipe (May 2002). —Amanda Moose
Heat oil in a heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add sliced garlic and sauté until light brown, a little less than 1 minute. Add clams and 1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley; stir 2 minutes. Add wine; simmer 2 minutes. Add fresh lemon juice. Cover and simmer until clams open, about 6 minutes. Discard any clams that do not open.
Meanwhile, cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until just tender but still firm to bite. Reserve about a cup of the pasta water. Drain pasta.
Add pasta to clam mixture and toss to coat. Season to taste with salt and red pepper flakes, if using. Add pasta water in small increments as needed. Transfer to a large bowl. Sprinkle with remaining parsley.