Al Fresco: Linguine with Clams

Fresh ingredients, lightly cooked, eaten ooutdoors. Pour the Soave, let’s eat.

(Adapted from Marcella’s Italian Kitchen by Marcella Hazan)
for 2 people

Warm 2 plates in the toaster oven set to 200F/95C.

12 live Manila clams
Scrub clam shells with brush. Discard any clams that do not close during cleaning.

9 oz. (255g) dried linguine (12 oz./340g, fresh)
Bring water for pasta to boil, while you start the sauce.

3 TBL. extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 oz (100g) sugar snap peas
sea salt
ground black pepper
1/2 cup dry white wine
few sprigs flat-leaf parsley, minced

Put garlic and oil in large skillet or wok — something that will be large enough to hold both the sauce and pasta. Heat pan over medium flame, and saute garlic until it softens and becomes aromatic. Add peas, salt and pepper, stir to coat with oil, and cook for 2-3 minutes, or until peas become bright green. Increase heat to high, and quickly add cleaned clams and wine, and immediately cover the pan. Cook for 4-5 minutes with cover closed, shaking pan occasionally.

Add a good handful of coarse salt to boiling water for pasta, and add linguine. Return to boil and cook until barely firm to the bite, maybe 5 minutes for dried, and 2 for fresh. I try to slightly undercook it at this stage, because the pasta will still cook with the sauce.

Check sauce. Turn heat down to medium, and remove peas and any clams that are opened to a warmed plate, and keep covered (this will keep them from over-cooking). Continue to remove clams as they open. When all clams are opened (or after another 4-5 minutes, discard any clams that don’t open), add parsley to sauce. Drain pasta but do not rinse. Add pasta to pan, and stir well to combine with sauce. Return peas and clams to pan, cover, turn off heat and let pan sit for 3-4 minutes while wine is poured and outside table is set.

Divide pasta and clams between two warmed bowls, garnish with more parsley, a grind of pepper and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Carry bowls outside. Mangia!

We actually had this meal 2 weekends ago, and afterwards I was craving a cake, which I rarely do. In fact, the cake I was craving was a polenta torta so the next day I made the version with preserved lemon and almond here. Unlike many lemon desserts, the preserved lemon cake is well-suited to a rich cup of coffee!

(Read more about choosing safe fish and shellfish for Hawaii, the US, and around the world.)