Alison's Lunch

spaghetti with garlicky white wine clam sauce

spaghetti with garlicky white wine clam sauce

This is one of my favorite recipes of my mom’s. It’s garlicky and complex from the wine, but it’s not overly rich, since there isn’t any cream in the sauce.  My mom used to make it with her home-made canned clams, even though she didn’t particularly care for clams! Is that true love, or what? I’ve never made it with commercially canned clams, but it’s wonderful with fresh or frozen clams, as well as with home-canned.

Even though I’m not a fan of clam chowder or fried clams, I love this recipe. I’ve served this dish to several clam skeptics with great success! I think you’ll really enjoy it! To complete the meal, just add a simple green salad. 

I have a meat grinder attachment on my KitchenAid mixer that I sometimes use to grind the clams if I’m doing a lot of them at once after a successful clam-digging expedition. I don’t have the patience or the huge pressure-cooker to can the clams like my mom did, but it works just fine to freeze them instead if you have more than you’ll eat all at once. If we don’t come home with many clams, sometimes I just freeze the clams shucked and whole. In that case, I chop them by hand just before I make this dish, when they are still partially frozen, and then when I add the white wine to the clams in the saucepan, I blender them up finely with an immersion blender. You could also do this step in a regular blender.

½ pound spaghetti (I like to use whole-wheat, but white is fine, too)
1 pint of ground clams, cleaned—either fresh or home-canned.  (We grind butter clams or razor clams and either can them or freeze them in pint amounts for this recipe.)
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons dried oregano
1-2 cups dry white wine
fresh-ground pepper
1 or 2 bunches flat-leaf parsley, chopped
Parmesan cheese, freshly grated

1. Boil a large pot of water for the pasta. 
2. Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan.  Saute the garlic over medium heat until golden brown.
3. Add the clams and their liquid (if the clams are raw, there won’t be any liquid), the oregano (pulverize it between your palms as you add it), and the white wine.  If you haven’t ground the clams finely yet, do this now with an immersion blender or regular blender. Cook over medium-high heat until the wine is thickened and reduced and the clams are nicely saucy, but not too runny. 
4. When the water boils, add salt and put the pasta in to boil.
5. When the pasta is cooked, drain it and pour it into a large bowl.  Pour the clam sauce over the top of the pasta, more or less covering the center part of the platter.  Sprinkle the parsley all around the edges of the pasta to make a thick moat, and cover the clams in the middle with Parmesan cheese.  Grind pepper over the top of the clams.
6. Serve immediately, tossing the pasta at the table, making sure each person gets lots of parsley and clams.  Pass additional Parmesan cheese at the table.