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Best Spaghetti with White Clam Sauce Recipes

Best Spaghetti with White Clam Sauce Recipes

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Spaghetti with White Clam Sauce Shopping Tips

Seafood shopping is quite easy in the general sense. Rule of thumb: if it smells fishy, don't buy. Fresh seafood should smell mild and more like the ocean and sea water rather than fish.

Spaghetti with White Clam Sauce Cooking Tips

Looking for a quick mid-week dinner? Seafood is a safe bet. It's quick to cook and simple recipes can get dinner on the table in 20 minutes.

Spaghetti with Cockles in White Clam Sauce

Quick and easy, but also elegant, this spaghetti with cockles in white clam sauce dish is perfect for weeknights or weekend entertaining.



Place the cockles in a large bowl of cold, well-salted water. Soak for 30 minutes, then repeat.

In a small bowl, combine the clam juice and cornstarch.

In a large skillet, add the olive oil and butter over medium heat. When the butter has melted, add the onion and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, until starting to brown. Add the garlic and pepper flakes and cook for another 30 seconds. Add the wine, turn the heat to medium high, and cook for about 5 minutes. Lower the heat to medium, then add the lemon juice and clam juice slurry, and whisk for about 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, parsley, 1/4 tsp. black pepper, and the clams, and cover with a lid. Steam the clams in the sauce until they open, 6 to 10 minutes.

Divide the pasta among four to six serving bowls or place in a large serving bowl, top with the clam sauce and a sprinkle of parsley, and serve.

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Spaghetti Squash with White Clam Sauce

Use a knife to carefully cut 1 medium size spaghetti squash in half lengthwise, then scoop out the seeds, lightly oil the insides and season with salt and pepper and then place the squash cut side down on a baking tray and place the tray into the preheated oven.

At some point while the squash is baking, you'll need to finely mince 2 - 3 large cloves of garlic and rough chop 1/3 - 1/2 cup fresh parsley leaves.

Depending on the size of the squash, it'll take around 45 minutes to an hour to roast and then flip it over to cool down just a bit.

At that point, add 3 - 4 Tbs olive oil to a large heavy bottomed pan on medium heat and saute the minced garlic for 30 seconds or so.

Strain the clam juice from four 6 1/2 ounce cans of chopped clams into the pan and let that gently simmer along for a few minutes.

Then add the strained chopped clams to that and add the chopped parsley and let that gently simmer along for a couple of minutes.

All that's left is to use a fork to loosen up the strands of spaghetti squash, divide it into bowls, ladle the white clam sauce over the top of that and finish with some grated Parmesan or grated Asiago cheese.

For a richer sauce, add a couple of Tbs of butter with the parsley and stir that in.

Spaghetti with Clam Sauce

Among his significant contributions to our culinary landscape, our namesake hosted the first-ever American food program, I Love to Eat, on the fledgling medium of television in 1946. A frequent guest star on his show: pasta. &ldquoIf I could afford the calories, I&rsquom sure I could eat pasta three times a day,&rdquo he wrote in James Beard&rsquos Simple Foods. &ldquoIt is to me one of the shorter routes to heaven.&rdquo We couldn&rsquot agree more.


  • 2 quarts littleneck clams
  • White wine
  • 4 to 5 large cloves garlic, minced or crushed
  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • ¾ cup chopped parsley


Scrub the clams well and wash them in cold water to remove the sand from the shells. Put them in a heavy saucepan with ½ inch of white wine and the garlic. Cover the pan tightly and steam the clams until the shells open, 5 to 10 minutes.

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Cook the spaghetti according to package directions, then drain. Put the freshly cooked spaghetti in a warm bowl. Pour the clams, still in their shells, and broth over it and sprinkle parsley on the top.

Want Better Spaghetti alle Vongole? Stop Packing It Full of Clamshells

Sometimes when I'm eating a bowl of pasta with tomato sauce, I think to myself, Man, what I really want is to have a bunch of little rocks scattered throughout these noodles. I mean, who doesn't think that? I can't even begin to describe the relief I feel when I finally have a plate of shell-strewn spaghetti alle vongole in front of me and I can futilely tap the tines of my fork against all those stone-like bivalves as I try to disentangle the last strands of pasta from them.

Obviously, I'm kidding. Italy's pasta with clams has the double distinction of being one of the world's great seafood dishes and one of its great pasta dishes. It's just that the way it's often served, with the pasta chock-full of clamshells, is deeply flawed.

I know there are possible rebuttals here. One might argue, for instance, that if I object to clamshells in my pasta, I must also object to them in other dishes, like paella and seafood stews. I'd counter that the shell interacts with broth-y dishes and rice dishes very differently than with pasta, since the shell can scoop up the liquid and rice grains. Shells and long strands of noodle, on the other hand, don't so much as talk to each other on the plate. They just get in each other's way. (Don't even get me started on clamshells on pizza! How the hell are you supposed to eat that?)

Another argument could be that you can serve the pasta in a mound in the center of the plate, then arrange all the clamshells around it in a decorative fashion. This is true—in fact, I've seen it done—but I'd argue that such a presentation, while artful, denies you an essential joy of the dish, which is getting bites of clam meat with each forkful of pasta.

No, I'm convinced that leaving all the clams in their shells does nothing to improve the dish. The solution is simple: Pluck the cooked clams from their shells, then toss them back into the pasta. Save just a few shell-on clams to add as a garnish—an important garnish that, aside from looking nice, lets your guests know they're eating fresh clams and not sauce from a jar. Shelling the clams adds a couple of steps to the process, but the payoff in the improved eating quality of the dish is more than worth it.

If I were to describe the classic white alle vongole sauce, I'd say it's a basic aglio, olio, e peperoncino with clams and white wine added. (There's also a red version, with tomatoes included, but I'm focusing on the white one in this article.) All of the basic principles behind aglio e olio, therefore, apply to this dish as well.

That means starting by very gently cooking the garlic and red pepper flakes in olive oil until the oil is infused with their flavor and the garlic is just starting to turn golden. With aglio e olio, the next step would be to add the cooked pasta, along with some of its cooking water. But here, we first want to add white wine to the pan along with the clams, cover, and cook until the clams open and release their briny juices into the sauce.

There are a few important things to know about the clams. First, I tested this recipe with the three types of clams I was able to find: littlenecks, Manila clams, and cockles. Manilas and cockles are smaller than littlenecks, but since we're removing most of the shells, that's not too much of a consideration here. (If, for some strange reason, I did want to serve the pasta full of shells, I'd prefer smaller ones over larger ones.) Flavor-wise, they're pretty similar in the finished dish.

Second, I urge you to purge your clams, a process that helps remove any sand or grit that might be hiding in their shells. If you doubt whether purging is necessary, just take a look at my purging water in the photo below. That's all sand that would have ended up in my pasta sauce had I not gotten it out of the clams first. Purging is easy: Simply let the clams stand in cold, salty water (about as salty as the sea, which means around a 3% solution, though I always just eyeball it). Lift the clams out every 30 minutes, change the water, and repeat until you see no sand or grit in the bottom of the bowl. That could be after the first purge, or the fourth. It just depends on the clams.

Third, discard any clams that are open and refuse to close when you prod them. That's a sign that they're dead, or very near it anyway, and are best avoided.

Back to the covered pan: We have our clams, wine, oil, garlic, and chili flakes all simmering away, the clams popping open one by one as they go to a better plaice. (Sorry, couldn't help myself.) I like to pluck them out and transfer them to a bowl as they open, to avoid overcooking the open clams while waiting for the others to catch up. A lot of people say you shouldn't eat clams that don't open. This is not true: A shut-tight clam is, if anything, the most vigorous and lively one in the pot. It's probably the best one to eat! Keep steaming the clams, and they will eventually open. Sometimes they'll open only a crack, in which case you can use tongs to fully pop the shell.*

*The only exception to this is that, in exceedingly rare instances, you could possibly have a "mudder" in the batch, which is an empty shell filled with mud. It almost never happens with clams from the fishmonger, but can happen if you've dug the clams yourself. Best to open very stubborn shells away from the rest of your food, just in case they're filled with muck.

Once the clams have cooled just enough to handle, you can pluck out their meat and discard the shells, saving just a few shell-in clams per serving for garnish. If the clam meat is from a bigger clam, like a littleneck, I like to chop it up just a bit smaller clams can be left whole.

At this point, the sauce is ready for the pasta, so you can go ahead and cook it in a pot or a large skillet of boiling water. A skillet offers a lower ratio of water to pasta, which results in starchier water that will help later when it's time to emulsify the sauce. The one downside of using a smaller vessel like a skillet is that I tend to slosh the water over the edge when I stir, making a mess. Sometimes I use a big pot to minimize spills. Either works.

Because the clams can be salty, though, I recommend salting your pasta water less. Typically, I suggest salting pasta water to 1% (about one tablespoon of Diamond Crystal kosher salt per quart or liter of water), but here I'd err on the side of less salt, given the brininess of the clams. You may have to add a little salt to the pasta later if the clams don't end up adding enough salt on their own, but that's a better option than having to choke down ruined food.

As soon as the pasta is done, transfer it to the skillet with the sauce, along with some of the starchy pasta water, and cook it all together, stirring and tossing rapidly over high heat. The fats in the sauce emulsify with the water, reducing into a creamy coating for the noodles. I'm sometimes inclined to melt a pat of butter into the dish at this point—when is butter ever a bad idea with clams?

When everything is ready, I toss in the clam meat along with the reserved garnish clams, stirring and tossing just long enough to heat them through, then remove the dish from the heat and mix in parsley and a splash of fresh olive oil for flavor.

What you end up with are silky noodles coated in all that briny, garlicky flavor from the pan sauce and studded with tender morsels of the clam itself.

Making Spaghetti with Clams in a Tiny Kitchen

You might not think that you can cook up such a savory and filling meal with so little time and effort, but that’s what you get when you make this recipe. By cooking the spaghetti directly in the clam and white wine garlic sauce, you’re getting all those delicious flavors cooked into your pasta—making it much more flavorful than if you cooked the spaghetti separately. The starches also boil out of the spaghetti into your sauce giving it a thicker consistency that will stick to your noodles more readily. Plus, you save on stove-top space, water, and dishes.

Because this is one-pot recipe, so dishes are a breeze with only a cutting board, knife, medium pot, large spoon, forks and/or spoons, and a few bowls to clean up. I usually also throw in a pair of tongs when dishing up. I find it’s a lot easier to grab the spaghetti with the tongs and then spoon the clam sauce and clam meat over the spaghetti into your bowl. You want this to a be a juicy bowl of pasta with a lot of the sauce.

This recipe does not store well. We’re talking seafood and pasta here, so keep it around at your own risk. You can refrigerate leftovers to be eaten the next day, but don’t keep it for much longer than that.

Canned Clams or Fresh Clams

Can you make this recipe using fresh clams? Absolutely! My family originally made this recipe in two separate pots with freshly shucked clams and all the delicious fresh clam juice. It was really good, but a lot of extra work. I am not as fancy as that, I have significantly less time, and the price of fresh clams is not as kind as it was 20 years ago. But, if you’re still interested, convert this recipe to use fresh clams.

First of all, you’re going to want to work with medium-small clams like a Littleneck clams or Topneck Clams. Soak them in cold water for at least 20 minutes to get them release any sand. You’ll need about 36 to 48 clams to account get the equivalent amount needed for this recipe. I recommend going with 48 and setting a dozen aside to cook them in the shell for extra flare. Be sure to wash the outside of the shells thoroughly.

Shuck the clams over a bowl to catch all the clam juice and set the clam meat aside. Strain any rogue shell pieces from your juice and give your clam meat a rough chop before proceeding with the recipe as is. If you’re want to add some clams still in the shell, add them to the pot about 3 minutes after starting the spaghetti. These will take a little longer to cook and open than the raw clam meat. Before serving, remove and discard any shelled clams that have not opened.

That’s it!

Give this recipe for spaghetti with clams a shot and let me know what you think. Don’t forget to come back and give me your rating. If you have any questions or find other substitutions that are yummy, feel free add those in your comments! As always, if you like this recipe, please share it on social media so other people know about it too. Let’s eat!

Skinny on Lightened Up Spaghetti with White Clam Sauce

This version of spaghetti with white wine clam sauce has only 1 tablespoon of olive oil, so it’s low in fat.

The red pepper flakes give it a nice little kick, but if you’re not a fan, leave them out.

Weight Watchers Friendly Spaghetti & White Wine Clam Sauce

And I added an extra can of clams, since they’re a WW Power Food and I like my linguini (or in this case, gluten-free brown rice spaghetti) with lots of clams.

Spaghetti with White Clam Sauce

Spaghetti with White Clam sauce, an Italian classic with its simplicity and luxurious flavor. Another easy recipe for that busy work week. So if you love seafood, get that spaghetti out of the cupboard and steam those clams!

Spaghetti with white clam sauce would not have been a favorite of mine as a child. As a matter of fact, any seafood for that matter. I would have to say that the first time I had seafood was when I was in my late teens and even then I was a bit picky. However, after that, I began to try new things, being more adventurous and all, and the experience of this spaghetti with the clams and a simple yet elegant white wine sauce had me hooked and still to this day a huge favorite.

I would have to say first of all that I am in deep gratitude to my beautiful wife Nicoletta for what she has brought to my life. The travel and the food I have experienced with Nicoletta has been an amazing journey and the excitement of things to come keeps us vital and young.

Having said this, it was her that hooked me on Spaghetti con Vongole (clam). The first time I had them in Italy was at my mother and father in law's. Before arriving at their house a cute flat in Rome, Italy, we had ventured to a fish market to pick up fresh fair. The crazy thing is that the first thing we do as soon as we arrive in Italy is go to the fish markets located in Fiumicino. A sea area filled with amazing fish markets and fish mongers.

Let me set the scene for you. We park on this street, get out of the car and the first thing that hits you is this slight breeze weighted with a good amount of humidity. Then that smell of the sea, briny, earthy, organic and rich, giving rise to a hunger and craving for some just caught on ice sea fair. Our walk is filled with lovely pictures of boats, ships. The sounds of the sea gulls flying and proclaiming that they have found heaven here with all the rich goodness available from King Neptune of the Mediterranean Sea. Then in the distance we start to see the markets, ice flowing like gold keeping today's catch fresh and aromatic. The bartering begins as we decide to get some vongole (clams), moscardini (baby squid), rombo (a type of fish), alici (small sardines) and some gamberetti (shrimp). I know it seems a bit ambitious, but the scene and the product has a way of making you delirious and in a craving stupor. The back and forth of the customer and fish monger goes on and in the end a good firm hand shake and some funny remarks by the fish monger on how he was just robbed and his kids will starve tonight, lol, not really, just some of the dramatics of this passionate culture.

The recipes we did and the enjoyment we had making them in that small kitchen was amazing. The smell of the sea wafting in the air and the deliciousness of every dish is one that I can still taste on my buds. I might add one that I truly miss when I am away from Italy.

Back to the Spaghetti with white clam sauce.

Key ingredients for this spaghetti is of course the pasta, a good quality Italian, with good flavor. Second some garlic and onion, white wine, fresh parsley, a pinch of red chili flakes, and as always some great quality organic cold pressed extra virgin olive oil. I think they should invent a short version for this oil something like OCPEVOO, lol. Let's not forget the star of this dish, the clams! Well they are not like the ones from Italy, we don't have a sea close by. They are from the Pacific Ocean and are called Pacific coast savory clams.

Having lived in Edmonton Alberta all my life, it took me several years to find jewels of fish markets. This particular market was a referral given to us by some friends. I would have to say I was not disappointed in the least. The people at Ocean Odyssey, were both helpful and knowledgeable. We ordered the clams to be picked up the day they came in fresh from the coast.

I am going to share with you key notes on cooking and preparing this dish. Ones that I have learned from my wife Nicoletta, who I might add is the "pasta queen". When it comes to spaghetti with clams, bar none Nicoletta will have you slurping and eating this dish with vigor and passion.

It is important to really wash and soak the clams in salt water, if they are really fresh and you watch closely, you will sea the shells open and the clams come out and all that sand falling to the bottom of the bowl. I would have to say I was a bit sad knowing they were that fresh and my heart felt for those creatures, but I know in my heart that I am truly grateful for the blessing of this recipe and these clams, and I hope that this will ease the discomfort. I learned from a monk once that if you are grateful and you respect nature then the sacrifice has served its purpose.

The next key element is the spaghetti cooked to a nice al dente texture. I usually cook it a bit less as I like to finish it in the pan with the clams and sauce.

For the clams, a nice quick steam in a pot with some salted water. This will open the clams. If some of the shells don't open throw those out, they are not good. Trust me on this one, eating those could cause you a stomach ache you will never forget.

When the clams are finished, take some of the clams out of the shell and into a bowl, about a 60-40 ratio of clams out of shell to clams left in shell. I believe leaving some of the shells enhance the flavors of the pasta and the look is beautiful too. A good reminder of what Mother Nature has given us.

A quick saute of onions and garlic, with that pinch of red chilis, will release the first stages of hunger into the kitchen. Add in the clams and some white wine to deglaze the pan of all that ocean goodness. A little of the chopped parsley for that peppery flair. In goes the spaghetti. I usually use tongs to grab the spaghetti. The reasoning behind this is I want some of that starchy water so the pasta does not get dry and pasty. This is so important. I always keep the remainder of the pasta water close by so if I need some I can ladle it in. Some quick tosses to ensure the distribution of the clams and sauce and you are ready to plate this godly creation. Some nice fresh parsley sprinkled on top with a drizzle of the OCPEVOO, you know, that olive oil thing.

Dinner is served! This evening we have Spaghetti with White Clam Sauce.

The flavors from the nuttiness and slight crunch of the spaghetti, to that white white sauce bathing sweetness from the onion, and acidic and fragrant from the garlic. The clams briny, earthy, tender, plump and rich, along with the shells accentuating this experience of this flavor. The chili flakes offering a nice kick, combined with the grassy richness of the olive oil and the peppery nature of the fresh parsley. Mouthful after mouthful has you licking your lips and grabbing a piece of rustic bread to clean the remains of sauce off your plate. Even after the meal you are left with this lingering absolutely wonderful flavor on your lips and in your mouth, one that leaves you craving the jewels of the sea or ocean even more.

Song of the day: "Natural Science" by Rush (a truly acquired taste Canadian group which I love especially the percussions, absolutely amazing!)

Andrea’s Spaghetti with White Clam Sauce Quick Weeknight Meals Recipe Contest 2009

Recipe: Spaghetti with White Clam Sauce
How long does it take? 30 minutes
Category: Omnivore
Name: Andrea
Why is it a favorite meal? This meal is healthy, takes under 30 minutes to make, and is most importantly, tasty and satisfying. I always keep these ingredients, sans fresh clams, stocked in my cupboard and refrigerator for a quick weeknight meal or impromptu dinner party.

Spaghetti with White Clam Sauce

When a dinner party of 8 is called together at the last minute on a workday afternoon for that same evening, I look to what is always stocked in the cupboard to make a delicious under 30-minute pasta meal that has been passed on in my Sicilian family. Growing up, my mother made this very frequently on weeknights for dinner, and my addition of fresh parsley, white wine, butter and fresh littleneck clams makes a beautiful presentation suitable for guests, while satisfying my childhood nostalgia.

Our Boerum Hill, Brooklyn, garden sets a charming and tranquil setting far away from our chaotic days working in the City. As the weather gets cooler and work gets busier as everyone re-focuses after the summer vacation, it feels almost necessary to take any opportunity to enjoy an impromptu outdoor evening of friends, family and food. Leave work at 6 and pick up two loaves of crusty Italian bread at the corner deli, complete prep by 7, guests arrive at 7:30 and dinner at 8.

INGREDIENTS (for 8 ppl main course)
2 lbs. of Spaghetti
10-12 cloves of fresh garlic, chopped
1/4 cup of Olive Oil (enough to coat the bottom of your pot)
2 cans of chicken broth (14 oz. cans)
1 cup of dry white wine
2 bottles of clam juice (8 fl. oz. bottles)
4 cans of minced or chopped clams (6.5 oz. cans)
1 packed cup of fresh chopped flatleaf Italian parsley
2-3 lbs. of littleneck clams or cockles, if available
pinch of crushed red pepper to taste
2 tablespoons of butter
1-2 tablespoons of flour (for a thicker sauce, use more flour)
salt & pepper to taste
grated parmesan cheese, if desired (pecorino romano)

PREP: Soak fresh clams in water and change the water a few times while prepping to rid the clams of any sand. Rinse parsley at the same time. Chop parsley. Chop garlic.

Boil a large pot of salted water for spaghetti. Cover to help the water boil faster. Once boiling, add spaghetti and cook until al dente about 8-10 minutes. Drain and set aside.

In the meantime, while water for spaghetti is boiling, in another large pot, heat olive oil on medium. Add chopped garlic. Saute for 1-2 minutes. Do not let garlic burn.

Add chicken broth, white wine, 2 jars of clam juice and drained juice from the cans of chopped/minced clams. Reserve actual canned chopped/minced clams for later. Add parsley and crushed red pepper. Increase heat on stove and bring sauce to boil.

If using, add fresh littleneck clams and cover the pot to steam them for 4-5 minutes. Open lid after 3 minutes to see if the clams are opening. After 5 minutes, all of the clams should be opened. If they do not open, then discard them because they are bad. With a large slotted spoon, take out fresh clams in shell and set aside in bowl for later presentation.

Lower heat on stove to medium-high. Add cans of drained chopped clams.
Add butter. Stir in flour and whisk to slightly thicken the sauce.

Taste. Add salt and pepper, if needed.

Turn the heat on stove to low until spaghetti is ready. Both spaghetti and sauce should be done around the same time, and this should take 20 -25 minutes total cooking. Toss spaghetti with clam sauce. Serve in bowls, making sure there is ample broth in each bowl for dunking the bread. Add 3-4 littleneck clams in shell to each bowl.
Serve with Italian bread.

*I also usually serve a salad on the side, too. For this meal, I made a tomato, basil onion salad with olive oil because I had many leftover tomatoes from the garden. I also made a spinach salad with red onions, Valdeon Espana blue cheese, and roasted almonds (broken in half).

Thanks Andrea, and good luck! Readers, give Andrea a thumbs up if you like this recipe!

Recipe Summary

  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 2 pounds Manila clams or cockles, scrubbed
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup bottled clam juice
  • 2 tablespoons minced flat-leaf parsley

In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the spaghetti until barely al dente, 7 to 8 minutes. Drain well and return to the pot. Cover with a kitchen towel and keep warm.

Meanwhile, in a large, deep skillet, combine the olive oil with the garlic and crushed red pepper and cook over moderate heat until the garlic is lightly golden, about 5 minutes. Add the clams, cover and cook over high heat, stirring occasionally, until the clams open, 5 to 8 minutes. As they open, transfer them to a bowl with a slotted spoon.

Add the wine to the skillet and cook over high heat until reduced to 2 tablespoons, about 5 minutes. Add the clam juice, parsley and spaghetti and cook, tossing, until the pasta is al dente and most of the broth has been absorbed, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer the pasta to a large, deep platter, top with the clams and serve immediately.