I’d always loved this dish, and then I had it in Venice and became spoiled for life. Linguine con Vongole, as it’s called in Italy, is served with Manila clams the size of a fingernail, and the bowl comes loaded with sixty or seventy clams, bursting with flavour. This week we were lucky enough to find fabulous, very small pasta clams at our local Fortinos, so it immediately became that night’s dinner choice.

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Pasta with Clams

A simple dish, simply bursting with flavour.


  • 1 tbsp kosher salt
  • 1 tbsp cornmeal
  • 2 lb very small clams
  • ½ c dry white wine
  • 1 lb linguine, spaghetti or other long pasta
  • ¼ c extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  • large handful of fresh, flat-leaf (Italian) parsley leaves, coarsely chopped


  1. Fill the sink with 2 inches of cold water.  Add the kosher salt and cornmeal and soak the clams for about 10 minutes to remove any sand or grit. Rinse and drain the clams in a colander, discarding any that do not close to the touch.
  2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Meanwhile, put the clams in a large saucepan or pot.  Add the white wine, turn the heat to medium-high and cook, stirring the clams occasionally, until they start to open.  Pull each clam from the pot as it opens and place in large bowl (some take longer than others; if you leave them all in the pot, the early openers will be overcooked). Discard any clams that do not open.  Strain the clam broth through a fine-mesh sieve lined with cheesecloth (muslin) into a bowl and set aside.
  3. Generously salt the boiling water, add the pasta, and cook until al dente (7-9 minutes).
  4. Meanwhile, in a large frying pan over medium-low heat, warm the olive oil. Add the garlic and saute until very lightly golden. Add the reserved clam broth and the lemon juice and simmer over low heat until slightly reduced (about 4 minutes).  Add salt & pepper to taste.
  5. Drain the pasta well and add it to the frying pan. Add the clams in their shells and any juices that may have accumulated.  Toss well over low heat for about 1 minute to coat the pasta.  Add the parsley and toss gently. Serve immediately in warmed, shallow pasta bowls.
  • Author: Helen Kain


  • Serving Size: 4