Monday, November 16, 2009

Spaghetti with clams

I love rice, but I love pasta too. And having married into a fine Italian family, pasta is a pantry staple in our house. Whenever I have no idea what to make for dinner, I can grab a box of "macaroni",  a handful of roma tomatoes and have dinner on the table in 20 minutes.

I tend to keep roma tomatoes on hand when they are in season, but honestly, a can of whole or crushed tomatoes will get the job done nicely in a pinch.

Since I tend to do most, if not all, of our cooking for the holidays, I like to simplify our evening meals this time of year. I can't organize my grocery shopping to buy what's needed for the Thanksgiving table and make sure I have enough ingredients on hand for the other nights of the week. I'm just not that gifted. And the fridge doesn't really hold that much. Plus, when I'm thinking about turkeys and corn casseroles and roasted acorn squash and baking, baking, baking, dinner has got to be a no-brainer.

And that's why I love this meal.

Here's what you need to get started:

1 box of spaghetti, linguini or long twirl-able pasta of your choice
1-2 cans of chopped or minced clams w/ juice
4-6 roma tomatoes
generous handful of finely chopped fresh parsley
kosher salt
fresh pepper
red pepper flakes
olive oil

Put a pot of water on to boil and cook the spaghetti according to package directions.

 While the spaghetti is cooking, chop the tomatoes. I like a small-ish diced cut.


Once the tomatoes are chopped/diced, swirl some olive oil in a heavy pan and let it heat for about a minute. Pour in the clams and add the tomatoes and garlic to the pan. Season with kosher salt, fresh ground pepper and if you like a little bite, sprinkle in some red pepper flakes.


 Let it simmer for about 10 minutes or so (until the pasta is cooked and the tomatoes soften), then throw in the parsley.

Take the pan off the heat. Drain the spaghetti. And mix the sauce and pasta together. I do this in the same pan I cook the sauce in, but you can use a fancy bowl if you like.


Sprinkle with fresh parmesan cheese and enjoy!!


One of the nice things about this meal, is that I can hold some spaghetti aside for my son, who still prefers his serving with nothing more than butter and cheese.

A word on amounts: If you are preparing a pound of pasta, you may want to use two cans of clams and a couple extra tomatoes. Too much sauce is never a problem with this meal, but not enough can feel skimpy. The sauce is very broth-like and one my favorite things, besides sopping it up with a good piece of crusty Italian bread, is to scoop up what's left in my bowl with a spoon.

I'll probably make this once a week or so right up through the New Year.  It's the kind of thing I can throw together after a day of baking or when we need a change of pace from holiday leftovers. My mother-in-law, by the way, makes it the same way only she omits the tomatoes and the red pepper flakes. Her version is even simpler than mine and just as delicious!!


  1. Oooh. Yum. I've always been wary of canned clams, but I'll have to give 'em a go!

  2. Sounds like a great spur of the moment meal...I'll bring the bread (and some vino)! JB

  3. I have never tried canned clams, but this sounds like a great recipe!

  4. This is definitely one to try. Thanks!

  5. TC and goodfountain, nothing to be wary of with canned clams. Though I have to admit, the brand I show in the photo is the only brand I've ever used. And I prefer minced to chopped, but either one will do.

  6. I made this tonight and it was delicious! I walked into Whole Foods, which was near where I was working this morning, in need of something to make for dinner...I suddenly remembered this recipe, looked it up on my iPhone in the store, and bought the ingredients. Whole Foods didn't have chopped canned clams in stock (the "fishmonger" there said they don't carry them all the time but would get them in soon for holiday cooking) but I bought a can of Boiled Baby Clams - my man told me it would be just fine, I simply needed to put them in the pan later so they didn't overcook, and sure enough they were tasty and not overcooked. Matt and I loved this dish - next time I'll add another clove of garlic and a shot of red pepper flakes, but we'll definitely add it to the meal rotation! Thanks for the great recipe.

  7. Like the rest of you, I've always been leery of canned clams. But I had a pasta volpone (with clams) when I was in London (leaving aside my vegetarian roots for the moment) and it was delicious. In this case they were minced and I'd have to say they were the perfect texture with the pasta and sauce. I'm going to try this one (yes, leaving aside my veg, which I do occasionally for fish).