Linguine with clams is one of my favorite fancy dishes. Here's the secret: this meal is super easy to make, inexpensive, nutrient-dense, and so darn delicious! We don't eat a ton of pasta at our house, but when paired with a nutritional powerhouse of clams and grass-fed butter, we make an exception.
If you don't eat wheat, the clams and broth will go great with rice pasta or spaghetti squash for a grain-free version that is just as delicious as the classic.
Why are clams good for you?
Did you know that most traditional cultures strove to eat the whole animal whenever possible? This was not only to stretch their meals, but also because they intuitively understood that the organs of animals are valuable foods for human health.
Turns out that clams (and similar sea creatures) are one of the easiest and most efficient ways to benefit from eating the whole animal, since the animals are so small and relatively easy to gather.
Clams are rich in important fat soluble vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that all play an essential role in fertility, bone and teeth health, and so much more. You can read more about the health benefits of clams, oysters, and mussels here.
Will kids eat clams?
When my kids were toddlers they would happily eat clams and raw oysters. Now a bit older, they're a bit squeamish about eating the fleshy bits, but they will happily chow the noodles and slurp the broth that infuses their little bodies with wonderful fats and minerals. If your kids aren't into spicy foods, save your chili peppers for garnish on the grown-ups' bowls.
Linguine with clams ingredients
- 2 pounds of small fresh clams, such as manila*
- ¼ plus 3 T. and 1 pinch of sea salt, divided – buy my favorite sea salt in bulk here
- 1/2 pound dried linguine
- 6 T. butter, from grass-fed cows
- 1 t. red pepper flakes, optional
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ cup white wine (or sub chicken broth)
- ½ cup shredded Parmesan cheese
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
- 2-3 lemon wedges for garnish
Linguine with clams method
- Rinse the clams in cold water, taking care to discard any that are broken or open.
- In a large bowl, dissolve 1/4 cup of sea salt in cool filtered water. Allow the clams to sit in this salt water bath for at least 15 minutes, which will help to remove grit from inside and outside the shells.
- Meanwhile, fill a large pot with water plus 3 tablespoons sea salt and bring to a boil over high heat.
- When water is boiling, add pasta and cook according to package directions until just al dente. Drain and set aside.
- While the clams soak and pasta cooks, in a large wok (or similar sized pan) over medium heat, melt the butter and add the garlic, salt, and optional red pepper flakes, allowing flavors to release into the hot butter for 2-3 minutes.
- Rinse the soaked clams under cool water again, gently rubbing any remaining debris. Allow excess water to drain.
- Add the white wine to the butter and spices, and then gently pour in the clean clams.
- Cover and cook for 10 minutes or until the clams are open.
- Discard any unopened clams.
- Add the pasta to the sauce and clams combining well.
- Spoon into shallow bowls, and garnish with parsley, plenty of Parmesan, a squeeze of lemon, and a bowl for discarding the clams shells.
*Don't forget to drink the yummy and nutritious broth at the bottom of your bowl!
How to buy clams
According to the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood watch, the popularity of clams “exceeds the supply harvested from the sea, so farmed clams today account for 89 percent of world clam consumption.”
As with oysters, mussels and other bivalves, clams are filter-feeders so they can actually help to improve water quality and reverse pollution. As such, clams are a “best choice” seafood in terms of environment and biodiversity.
Clams and other small sea creatures are among the least likely to be contaminated with mercury. As with any food, I recommend you “know your farmer” – or in this case, your fishmonger, if possible, to ensure you are getting clams from a good, reliable source.