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Classic Linguine with Clam Sauce


Garlicky and comforting, this pasta dish is a perennial crowd pleaser. A bit of crushed red pepper flake is a welcome addition for those who like it hot.

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Rate this recipe 4.5/5 (13 Votes)


  • 4 lb. littleneck or Manila clams, or cockles
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine, such as Pinot Grigio
  • 1 lb. linguine or spaghetti
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 to 3 medium cloves garlic, minced
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 Tbs. finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes (optional)


Adapted from


Step 1

Scrub the clams under cold running water, then place in a deep bowl and cover with cool water. Add 2 Tbs. salt and swirl with your hands to dissolve the salt. Let sit for about 30 minutes at room temperature to purge any grit.

Without disturbing the sediment in the bowl, transfer the clams to a colander and rinse with cold water. Discard any open clams that don’t close when tapped.

Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a rolling boil.

Put the clams and wine in a heavy-duty 5- to 6-quart pot. Cover and cook over medium-high heat, shaking the pot occasionally, until the clams have opened, 7 to 10 minutes.

Remove from the heat, uncover, and let sit until cool enough to handle, about 5 minutes. Transfer the clams from their shells to a medium bowl, leaving a few intact for garnish, if you like. If using littlenecks, remove the tough adductor muscles on each side of each clam. Discard any clams that didn’t open during cooking.

Strain the cooking liquid through a sieve lined with dampened cheesecloth or paper towels into the bowl. Rinse and dry the pot.

Cook the pasta in the boiling water, stirring occasionally, until slightly firmer than al dente, about 1 minute less than package directions. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta water, and drain.

Meanwhile, warm 1/4 cup of the oil and the garlic in the clam pot over medium-high heat until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the clams, including the ones in shells, if using, and the cooking liquid, and bring to a simmer. Season with 1/2 tsp. each salt and pepper. Keep warm on low heat.

Add the drained pasta, the remaining 1/4 cup oil, the parsley, and red pepper flakes, if using, to the sauce. Cook over high heat for 1 minute to meld the flavors, thinning out the sauce as needed with some of the reserved pasta water. The pasta should be moist and well coated with sauce. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Distribute among shallow bowls, and serve.

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