Ed. note: I updated proportions on the ingredients for the clam preparation three hours post publication! If you printed when this was first released please note the slight edits for that section below.
Mr. Magpie made linguine vongole (linguine with clams) the other night, and I can’t remember anything tasting better — the dish is briny but bright, with a buttery richness to the condimenti. We enjoyed with the last of the peppers from Mr. Magpie’s garden, grilled and dressed in a vinaigrette, and have on other occasions served with a simple green salad, but this is one of those “plato unico” type dishes where you almost don’t need a side, which makes it appealing for weeknights. (I will, however, note that the sauce is outrageously good, and would love to sop up the extra with a bit of rustic bread.) The recipe is not particularly complex but requires careful attention to cooking times and technique — especially the “marrying of the pasta” phase, during which Mr. Magpie stands attentively at the stove, tossing the pasta until it takes on a glistening sheen and the sauce is thoroughly coating each strand of linguine.
I feel like Ina saying this, but the simplicity of this recipe means that it demands the best ingredients: the best dried pasta (notes below), good butter (we use Kerrygold exclusively), wine you’d enjoy drinking, etc.
Mr. Magpie’s recipe is adapted from Missy Robbins’. She calls for more clams, some left whole, but we’ve played around with proportions for years and years and exactly 20 seems to be the magical number where you get enough clam in each bite but are also able to fully enjoy the pasta itself.
An aside: we absolutely love these handmade “Ripple” pasta bowls (above) from the North Carolina-based brand Haand. I am convinced that eating pasta out of these bowls improves the dining experience. Elevated rustic vibes, especially paired with these painted fern napkins from Christina Dickson, also seen above.
To Prep the Vongole
20 littleneck clams
1/4 cup olive oil (we recently discovered that the brand California Olive Ranch, which is widely available and reasonably priced, is delicious and excellent for cooking with — you can usually find at Whole Foods)
2 cloves garlic
1/2 cup white wine (we use whatever white we have on hand — Mr. Magpie usually keeps Gruner Veltliner on hand, so we use that)
a few sprigs thyme
1/2 tsp dried red chili flakes
1 lb linguine (we buy all our dried pasta from Gustiamo in Brooklyn — we especially love Faella and Martelli brands…you will notice a HUGE difference in your pasta dishes if you invest in good pasta!)
3 Tbsp / 42g olive oil
1 clove / 5g garlic, finely chopped
2 Tbsp / 30g unsalted butter, cold and cubed
peel of 1 lemon, pith removed and peel finely chopped
half of 1 lemon, to squeeze on top of pasta
1/4 cup / 20g finely chopped parsley
- Place clams in a bowl of cold water to soak. Drain and rinse away grit every 10 minutes before refilling with fresh water. Continue until water runs clear / grit-free.
- Place a large saute pan over medium heat and add olive oil. Add garlic and cook until aromatic, but without color, 10-15 seconds.
- Add clams to pan along with wine, thyme, chile. Cook, removing each clam as it opens.
- When all clams are removed, strain the cooking liquid through a fine-mesh strainer. Measure out 228g / 1 cup liquid and set aside.
- Remove meat from each clam and discard shells. Chop clams. We like the clams fairly finely minced — almost so that the meat coats/clings to the pasta like sauce versus being a separate “item” to eat in the dish.
- Bring a large pot of water to boil over high heat. Generously salt the water. (Use more salt than you think.)
- Add linguine to the water and cook 5-8 minutes / until al dente.
- While pasta cooks, place large saute pan over low heat. Add oil and chopped garlic and cook until aromatic but without color, 10-15 seconds. Add reserved clam cooking liquid to pan. Add butter and swirl to emulsify.
- Using tongs, remove pasta from pot and transfer to saute pan. Turn heat up to medium. Toss for 1-2 minutes to marry the pasta and sauce.
- Ladle a few spoonfuls of the hot pasta water into bowls. This will warm the dishes and keep the pasta warm for longer inside it.
- Add chopped clams and continue to toss for 30 seconds to distribute clams evenly and continue marrying ingredients. If sauce begins to tighten, add splash of pasta cooking water and continue to toss. When pasta is properly married, it will cling to the sauce and have a glossy sheen.
- Add lemon peel and parsley. Toss.
- Remove from heat. Squeeze in juice for 1/2 lemon / to taste.
- Dump water from bowls and use tongs to pile up the pasta inside. We use a small spatula to scrape all the sauce from the saute pan on top.
+The most delicious fall banana bread. Did anyone try this?
+What would your final meal be?
+Loved reading about your food hyper-fixations.
+Mr. Magpie loves Missy Robbins for pasta, but he also commonly refers to the recipes from this pasta cookbook. He advises caution with the latter — some of the measurements are off. Good to cross-check with another source. I enjoy reading that cookbook because the authors are very particular, even crotchety, about which pasta shapes to use with which dishes, when to serve what, etc.
+This ripple mirror is SO chic.
+Ordered mini this Usborne nutcracker sticker book — we are taking both children to the Nutcracker this year and I just love the build up and excitement. It’s such a wonderful holiday tradition.
+Hoping Mr. Magpie doesn’t read this, but I already know I want to buy him a spoon rest for Christmas as a stocking stuffer type gift. He routinely uses a small bread plate for this purpose. I like the ones from Haand or Emile Henry.
+Love this nightstand for a girl’s room.
+Gorgeous gold lame slip skirt. This could be dressed up for holidays or worn with a chunky knit now.
+Keep coming back to this fleece…
+My most-used eye palette. Great neutral, matte colors for everyday.
+A FUN dress for birthday, bachelorette, holiday, etc!
+Cute $25 holiday tablecloth for those of us thinking ahead to December.
+Another spectacular holiday dress.
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