Sometimes the simplest things in life are the best. Full of fresh simple flavours of the sea, nothing beats a seductive bowl of Linguine alle Vongole Bianco. The classic combination of clams and pasta is traditionally a Neapolitan dish but is also popular in the surrounding region of Campania, Rome, and throughout Italy, where this fragrant dish can be prepared two ways: rosso, with tomatoes and basil, or bianco, without. In this recipe, fresh Manila clams are steamed in a broth of olive oil, butter, onions, garlic and white wine until they just open and release their briny liquid into the sauce. The linguine is cooked until just al dente — in salty water, of course — then tossed with the clams, broth, and a handful of fresh herbs until it absorbs the sauce. Add a pad of butter or splash of olive oil and flurry of chopped parsley at the very end to make your pasta verdant and shiny, and serve with a cold glass of white wine for a traditional Neapolitan dish that is simple, delicious, and just about perfect.
Linguine with Clams in White Wine Sauce
3 tbsp olive oil
1 medium red onion, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, thinly chopped
1/4 tsp red-pepper flakes
1 cup dry white wine
2 lb small Manila or littleneck clams, soaked and scrubbed
Salt and pepper, to taste
12 oz linguine
1/4 cup fresh parsley, coarsely chopped
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add 2 tablespoons of salt and drop the linguine into the boiling water.
While the pasta is cooking, heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan. Add the chopped onions and garlic and cook over medium heat until the onions become translucent and the garlic is golden, about 6-8 minutes. Then add the white wine and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally until it's reduced slightly, about 3 minutes. Add the clams and half of the chopped parsley, cover and simmer, shaking the pan occasionally, until all the shells have opened, about 3-5 minutes.
Drain the linguine when it's one minute short of the cooking time on the package instructions and add to the sauté pan with the clams. Toss the pasta in the pan to allow it to absorb the broth. Remove from the heat and season with salt and pepper to taste. To serve, transfer the pasta and clams with sauce to warmed serving bowls and garnish with the remaining chopped parsley.