C is for Clams


Delicious, salty, and inexpensive clams have a fantastic natural flavour that is  scrumptious with the addition of chilli, lemon juice, and parsley.  There are many things I could have chosen for C: crab, calamari, cottage cheese, or celeriac but clams remind me of days at the beach as a child, searching for shellfish with my toes in the sand.

You should always choose clams that are tightly closed. This means the shellfish are still alive and that the seafood is fresh.  When cooking the clams it is equally important to make sure they snap open, as this will indicate that they are cooked. There are mixed opinions about the shellfish that don’t open. Some people believe that they should not be eaten. It is up to you whether you feel they have failed the test or are merely a clam incarnation of Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Before cooking the clams allow them to sit in a bowl of fresh water for upwards of an hour. This gives them time to spit out any sand they may still have within them. You also need to give the outside of the clam a good scrub and get a good recipe. Simple is best, seafood should not be overcomplicated as it drowns out the flavours that we value it for.


When buying clams pay attention to how they were harvested. The use of hydraulic dredges when gathering clams, particularly the hard shell variety, causes damage to the seafloor.  Clams are grown in aquafarms  so try and buy these or if you are buying the ‘wild’ ones search for clams that have been gathered using rakes and handheld dredges.

This delicious recipe is one of my favourites and something I prepare when I have company and want something flashy, delicious, and easy.

Serves 4

The key is to undercook the pasta a bit so it finishes cooking in the sauce. It will soak up a lot of flavour.


  • 2 tablespoons kosher or sea salt
  • 1 pound linguine
  • 12 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 2 pounds clams
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup dry white wine (you can substitute a good quality clam juice)
  • 1 (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes and their juice
  • ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons fresh flat-leaf (Italian) parsley, coarsely chopped
  • Heat 8 quarts of water for the pasta.


While the water is heating, get the other ingredients ready. Scrub the clams. Slice the garlic. Chop the parsley. Measure out the pepper flakes and wine. Chop the tomatoes if they’re whole.

When the pasta water is ready, add the salt and the pasta. My linguine said to cook for 10 minutes, so I set the timer for 9 minutes.

In a large pan, heat 6 tablespoons of the olive oil. Add the garlic and cook, stirring for about 30 seconds. Add the clams and red pepper flakes and stir for about 1 minute. Add the wine, tomatoes and ½ cup of parsley. Simmer, uncovered, until the clams open, about 7 – 8 minutes.

Reserve ½ cup of the pasta water. Drain the pasta and add it to the clams. Stir and cook for about a minute more, until the pasta is done. Add some of the reserved pasta water if it seems too dry.

Remove from heat, add the remaining 6 tablespoons of olive oil, teaspoon of pepper flake, and 2 tablespoons chopped parsley and serve.


3 thoughts on “C is for Clams

  1. I love that you selected clams for ‘C’. It reminds me of the delight and surprise on your face, when as a child, you watched them percolate up through the sand after cork screwing your feet back and forth at the edge of the surf line along the sunny wide expanse of the 90 mile beach.

  2. Pingback: Iron = Clams + Parsley | figswithbenefits

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