Today is my wedding anniversary. Eight years ago, Matt and I stood before friends and family and exchanged vows in what was probably one of the shortest wedding ceremonies in recent history. Our wedding took place at a beautiful church in the heart of Dallas, Texas. The ceremony was held on their outdoor pavilion (which is now a parking lot – good thing I’m not superstitious). The sky was brilliantly blue without a cloud in the sky, and the temperature was a scorching 98 degrees Fahrenheit, without a whiff of wind in sight. I had fervently prayed for no rain on my wedding day. Evidently I’d forgotten to pray for a breeze.
The guys were in their tuxes, I had my long, thick wedding gown on, the poor minister was in full garb, and of course I had chosen black for my bridesmaid’s dresses. The minister was mercifully quick and thankfully the reception was indoors.
So I chose this recipe to post today because anniversaries are romantic, and pasta with clams or mussels is one of the most romantic meals I can think of. I don’t know why mollusks are so romantic and sexy, but they just are. We ate this a couple weekends ago, not for any special occasion, but just because. It was a lovely date night evening, complete with dimmed lights, white wine and garlic bread. So it seemed appropriate to share it today.
This is a delicious recipe, no matter the setting or occasion. Though I suppose I should admit that I’m not at all picky when it comes to my pasta and clams. Red sauce, white sauce, it’s all good for me. This one was fantastic, and I highly recommend it for your next romantic meal with your significant other! Happy Anniversary Matt!!! I love you and I’m thrilled to share my life with you. Here’s to many more!
A few recipe notes: this recipe calls for 8 ounces of pasta; I used the whole package of 16 ounces without changing much else and it was fine. But you could certainly cut back if you want.
With experience, I have discovered that 1) a bunch of clams in a pot don’t open all at the same time, despite being all the same size; and 2) I absolutely despise overcooked clams. So I stand at the stove as they are cooking, and remove them as they open. This is not so cumbersome as it sounds, the entire process will take maybe 5 minutes and you’ll ensure that none of your clams overcook.
Also, with the exception of the pasta water, I don’t call for salting anything. I found it didn’t need it at all because the clams and their juices are very briny and salty. Taste to see and add a pinch of kosher salt if you find it needs it.
2 dozen little neck clams
8 or 16 oz. uncooked linguine, fresh if you can find it
4 tbs unsalted butter
1 tbs olive oil
2 garlic cloves, chopped
¼ tsp crushed chile flakes
½ cup white wine
1 cup clam juice or seafood stock
Freshly squeezed juice of 2 lemons
Kosher salt and black pepper
¼ cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
Immediately upon coming home from the store, place the clams in a large mixing bowl. Cover with water and sprinkle some cornmeal into the water. Place in the refrigerator for a couple of hours. The clams will “eat” the cornmeal and this will rid them of any sand and grit.
When ready to cook, remove the clams from the fridge and drain them in a large colander. Rinse them thoroughly to remove the cornmeal. Discard any that won’t close. They are already dead and not safe to eat.
Bring a pot of water to a boil. Once boiling, salt it generously and add the pasta. Cook according to package directions for al dente noodles. Drain when done cooking.
Meanwhile, place a large skillet over medium heat. Add the butter and olive oil. Once the butter melts, add the garlic and chile flakes. Cook until fragrant and the garlic is lightly golden, about 1 minute. Add the wine and clam juice and bring to a gentle boil. Add the clams and make sure your heat level is on medium. Cover the pot and let the clams steam open. Have a clean bowl ready beside the stove. Don’t walk away at this point. Let the clams steam for a few minutes, then peek in. Use tongs to remove any that have opened, then quickly cover the skillet again and let the rest steam. Check every couple minutes and remove the clams as they have opened. If any clams don’t open, discard them as they are not safe to eat. When they have all opened, shut off the heat, add the lemon juice and black pepper to taste. Place the clams back into the pot and add the drained linguine. Toss everything together, then pour into a large serving bowl, making sure the juices get in there too. Garnish with the parsley and serve immediately.