Friday, October 14, 2011

Recipe: Clam Linguine with Crushed Red Pepper and Oregano

Clam linguine garnished with a sprig of fresh oregano

This is a surprisingly easy recipe to make. Surprising because it is really tasty. What's more, it is classy enough to impress any guest (those with shellfish allergies excepted, of course).

In the summer and fall, we have fresh oregano and thyme in the garden. Either herb works really well in this recipe, but I prefer to use one or the other for simplicity. If you're using dried oregano or thyme, only add about a third as much—since dried herbs tend to be much more concentrated.

This recipe serves 2, but can easily be doubled, tripled, or more. The recipe takes about 20 minutes to make.


Fresh oregano adds a brightness to the flavor

  • 14 ounces of linguine
  • olive oil
  • 3 cloves pressed garlic
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 3 - 6 1/2 ounce cans of chopped clams with juice
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh oregano or thyme leaves (or 1 teaspoon of dried)
  • grated parmesan cheese

Start by boiling water for your pasta. I use Tinkyada brand gluten free pasta (it being the only gluten free brand that doesn't taste like wet cardboard). You can, of course, use whatever linguine suits you.

Your pasta water should be well salted. It should taste more salty than soup. Remember, most of this salt will stay in the water, but a small amount of it will infuse the pasta with more flavor.

Undercook your pasta slightly, because you'll cook it for a few minutes with the sauce to meld the flavors.

Your pasta should be cooked and drained by the time you start sauteing the garlic for your clam sauce—since things move pretty quickly after that point. Immediately after draining the pasta, stir in some olive oil to prevent sticking.

To make the clam sauce, heat a medium stainless steel saute pan on medium heat. Add a tablespoon or two of olive oil.

While the pan heats up, open the cans of clams so you're ready. The clams (with their juice) are essential to prevent the garlic from burning... since they immediately cool the pan down and lift the garlic from the heated surface.

Sauteing the garlic will take less than a minute. To do it, heat the oil up enough to shimmer (it should not be hot enough to smoke), and then add the pressed fresh garlic.

NOTE: If the garlic burns or gets dark brown, you're better off starting over. Browned garlic imparts a strong bitter flavor to the whole dish. Toss out the oil, cool the pan and give it a quick scrub, and re-heat a new batch of oil. 

Clam sauce ready for linguine
Stir the garlic around with a wooden spoon, being sure to scrape any stuck bits off the pan surface to prevent them from burning.

After the garlic is golden, but before it gets anything close to brown, toss in a pinch or two of crushed red pepper flakes, and immediately add the white wine and all of the chopped clams with their juice.

Add the pasta to the saute pan, and stir things around a bit to mix the sauce in with the pasta. Gently simmer for 2-3 minutes, and season with fresh chopped oregano or thyme to taste.

Serve immediately with a topping of grated parmesan cheese.


  1. Linguini with clams is definitely my "end times" dish of choice. Giant meteor headed toward earth? Quick, start the pasta.

  2. this looks great and i can't wait to try it. martha

  3. This has become our Friday night dinner!

    1. An easy way to round out the week... Thanks for stopping by!



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