Fusilli with Clam Sauce

I know this recipe doesn’t follow the strictly traditional version we’re used to seeing, which typically uses linguine. However, I like to make it with fusilli for the way the pasta catches the sauce. I typically use quinoa-based pasta and fresh clams. However, canned clams will do, and if you prefer standard linguine – go for it.

This recipe is easy and not super expensive, but it is dependent on the freshness and flavor of the ingredients to really stand out. Try to not buy the clams until the day you’re going to cook them, and if you need to shop ahead, make sure you put the clams in a bowl of cool water and keep it (uncovered) in the refrigerator. It will help keep them from opening, a trick I learned from Mr. Mark Bittman’s quintessential How to Cook Everything.

If you use fresh clams, it can be labor intensive to cut the clam meat out before you’re eating, so Davis and I just pick them out before we go to town on the bowl. When serving others, I cut out the meat ahead of time and toss it in the pasta. Either way, the pay off is there.

Important: there really is no tasty morsel that’s worth getting sick over, so be sure to throw away any cracked or opened clams before cooking. After the meal is cooked all the way through, the reverse is true: toss out any cooked mollusks that have not fully opened.

What you’ll need:

Fusilli – 1 pound
Clams – Little Neck, 1 pound
Dry White Wine – 2 cups
Garlic – Minced, 2 cloves
Olive Oil – 1 tbsp.
Butter – 4 tbsp.
Cherry Tomatoes – 2 cups, halved
Basil – 1/2 cup, chopped
Red Onion – 1 medium, finely chopped
Red pepper flakes – a dash
Salt – to taste
Pepper – to taste
Mozzarella – optional

  1. Fill a pot 3/4 of the way with water and add salt. Put over high heat to bring to a boil. Add pasta to boiling water and wait for it to cook through. Roughly 10 –12 minutes.
  2. While pasta is cooking, drizzle olive oil into the bottom of a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add butter to pan and allow to melt. Once oil/butter is hot, add onions, cherry tomatoes, basil and garlic. Toss around and to allow the mixture to take in the oil and butter for about 1 minute.
  3. Lower heat to medium, add white wine and freshly squeezed lemon juice to the pan and allow it to reduce a bit.
  4. Add clams to pot and cover it. Cook until majority of clams are open. Roughly 10 minutes.
  5. While the clams are cooking, the pasta should finish, and drain when ready.
  6. After clams are opened, add the pasta to the pan with the clam sauce. Incorporate thoroughly and remove from heat. Allow pasta to sit in clam sauce for at least 2-3 minutes to absorb flavor.
  7. Spoon onto a plate, and serve warm. If you prefer, (and I do) tear some mozzarella over the hot pasta once it’s plated.


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