Clam linguine with fresh herbs and lemon

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This is another one of my “perfecting” recipes – I search through numerous versions of one recipe, read reviews, etc and then create my own version based on what seem to be the best combination of ingredients. This was really good, especially a day later when the flavors were even more powerful! My husband usually isn’t a big shellfish person but actually loved this.  And I’m sure my Italian grandfather would have loved it too 🙂

This was also the first time I’ve cooked fresh clams in the shell. These are some tips if you decide to do the same (courtesy of my mom):

  1. When purchasing – ask for only closed clams (if it’s tightly closed, it’s alive – this is good) & have the fishmonger put on ice (in a separate bag).
  2. They should be no more than a few days old.
  3. When you get home, store on ice (ice should be in separate bag) in back of fridge where it’s coldest. The ice in a separate bag is important – fresh water will kill the clams.
  4. When you’re preparing to cook: throw out any that have opened or have broken shells.
  5. Scrub under cool water with a good kitchen brush to remove dirt, etc.
  6. Place in bowl and keep cool until ready to cook.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 pkg. linguine
  • 1.5 to 2 pds fresh little neck clams
  • 2 cans clams, with juice
  • Olive oil
  • 1 lemon
  • Fresh herbs: tarragon, Italian (flat  leafed) parsley, curly leafed parsley
  • 1 small white onion, chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 3/4 cup dry white wine (cooking wine)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • Grated Parmesan

INSTRUCTIONS

Cook linguine al dente about 8-9 minutes in salted water. I always put a splash of olive oil in my pasta water also because it helps to it keep from sticking together. Chop the fresh herbs – I used about a handful of each, finely chopped. Discard any thick stems. Meanwhile, begin the clam sauce. When the pasta is done, drain (reserve 1/2 cup water) and then return to pot and toss with reserved water.

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In a large heavy saucepan, on low heat, cook the onion, garlic, and red pepper flakes until garlic/onions are slightly soft, about 3 minutes. Add the wine, clams and juice, and herbs (reserve 1/4 of the herb mixture) and stir, turn heat to medium. Add fresh clams and cover pan. Cook on medium (steady simmer) for about 5 minutes until the clams open. Discard any that do not open. Transfer the cooked fresh clams to a plate with tongs. Juice the lemon and add to the sauce. Add the cream and stir, simmer for another minute.

Last, remove pan from heat and add the pasta to sauce, toss to coat, and add the herbs you previously set aside. Place pasta on plates and nestle the fresh clams on top. Sprinkle each plate with freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Enjoy with a nice glass of cold white wine! Serve alone or with a salad and crusty bread.

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