Friday, May 29, 2009

Clam and Herb Spaghetti

I love tinkering with recipes. I try and force myself to follow a recipe the first time around but rarely, I must admit, do I stick to my intent. The lure of the spices beckoning from the shelf over in the corner always seem to win me over. It's just too gosh darn fun to tinker with recipes.

This, however, this is one of those recipes. Those recipes that you can turn to in a crunch - whether its company dropping in unexpectedly or when you suddenly find out you're out of ground beef when you were planning on making hamburgers. This recipe is time-tested & fool proof. Just. The. Way. It. Is. Even I refrain from tinkering (okay, lets be honest...I don't tinker too much!) with this recipe. It's made of ingredients I always keep on hand (once you try it, you too will stock up cans of minced clams & the rest you probably already have) and the whole thing is ready in less than 1/2 an hour (chopping included!).

This recipe is perfect for those warm summer days where you want a satisfying meal but one that doesn't feel so "heavy." This serves up a hefty dose of olive oil and clams. It's one of those recipes I turn to when I have something important the next day (be it a race or a test) and I want something that will taste great and give me lots of "feel-good energy" for lack of a better term!

Start out by finely dicing (the finer the better!) 1 large onion & 3 cloves garlic. This is one of those recipes you can pull out your food processor for if you don't mind cleaning it out later.

While you're at it, you might as well finely chop 1 cup parsley*.

*I never seem to go through parsley and it inevitably sits there looking sad in a near-wilted state. At that point, (if I remember!) I finely chop it and throw it in a ziploc and into the freezer. It works perfect for dishes like this where you slightly cook it - you can just throw the already chopped frozen parsley in and voila! it works just like fresh and you didn't waste anything.

Now heat a skillet over medium high heat. Add 1/2 cup plus 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil (about 250 ml). Once that begins to warm up, add your chopped onion & 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (or 1 chopped dried red chili). You won't really notice the heat, it merely adds a pleasant warmth in the background of the dish. Let cook 3 minutes. Add your 3 chopped garlic cloves.

(Don't forget to start cooking the spaghetti at this point!)

Add chopped garlic, 1 tbsp dried basil, 1 tbsp dried oregano, salt & freshly ground black pepper, and the broth from both cans of minced clams (reserve the clams). Simmer until reduced slightly (-10 minutes, depending on how hot your stove is and how thin you like your sauce - don't forget it will still thicken a little more later!).

Add that 1 cup chopped parsley and the reserved minced clams. You're almost done! Let simmer for about 5 minutes to heat up the clams and slightly wilt the parsley. Don't forget to check on that spaghetti you have boiling!

Now grate a good mound of fresh parmesan cheese for serving. Don't skimp! By this time, your noodles should be cooked, the sauce is ready to go, and everyone is drifting into the kitchen because of the delicious smells. Enjoy!

Clam Spaghetti
Serves 4

1/2 cup plus 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (or 1 dried red chili, chopped)
1 large onion, finely minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp dried basil
1 tbsp dried oregano
Salt* & pepper
2 (6.5-oz) cans minced clams **
1 cup chopped parsley

Cooked spaghetti (I usually do about 1 lb dried spaghetti)
Fresh parmesan cheese, grated (for serving)

Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add chopped onion & red chili flakes. Stir and let cook for 3 minutes. Add minced garlic, basil, oregano, salt & pepper, and the broth from the minced clams (reserve the clams). Let simmer until reduced (~10 minutes). Add the chopped clams and chopped parsley. Let simmer for 5 minutes.

Serve over cooked spaghetti noodles and top with a healthy dose of freshly grated parmesan cheese.

* I usually use 1/4 teaspoon salt or less because the broth from the clams is salty and is topped with the slightly salty parmesan cheese.

**If you want to get fancy and you have access to fresh clams, you could steam the clams seperately and use 1 cup bottled clam juice (yes, they actually sell that) in the recipe. Just add the clams in at the very end right before serving. Tres elegante!


  1. I'd never had clam spaghetti before, tried it and loved it! I already had all the ingredients but the clams...super fast, easy, and flavorful! I'll add it to the rotation!

  2. Angie - I'm so glad the dish turned out well for you & that you enjoyed it!

  3. Hey Sarah,

    I happened upon your blog through...hmm..shoot, I've forgotten. Maybe Cooking for Seven?

    Anyway, I was curious whether or not you plan to continue blogging. I've enjoyed all of the blog posts that you have available and would love to read more. I plan to make several of your dishes (just so happens, I am commenting one of the few recipes I don't plan to try!) this coming week.

    I like cooking blogs that have great photos, recipes that use fresh ingredients, and posts that are short and sweet. Your's fits the bill.

    Hope to read more from you soon!