If memory serves me correctly, linguine with white clam sauce is the first non-red sauce pasta I ever had. A childhood pasta revelation. It continues to be one of my favorite sauces, but believe it or not I've never made one from scratch. Then I realized that it is actually one of the easiest pasta sauces imaginable. There's hardly anything to it. Looking at the recipe, it seems like it can't possibly be particularly flavorful, but the magic of clam juices should never be underestimated. If you're ever looking for a truly 10 minute pasta that will impress, this is the recipe for you, after the jump:
LINGUINE WITH WHITE CLAM SAUCE
1 lb linguine
48 littleneck clams (or approx. 12 per person)
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1/2 tsp dried red pepper flakes, or to taste
1 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
Rinse clams well to remove any surface sand, scrub shells if necessary. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta to cook. In a large saute pan with a cover, heat the olive oil, then add the garlic and pepper flakes and let sizzle for 30 seconds. Saute another 30 seconds, avoid browning the garlic. Add the clams in an even layer in the bottom of the pan and pour wine over, allowing the wine to come to a boil. Lower the heat to a simmer, then cover. Allow the clams to steam for 5 minutes, then check to see if they are fully opened. Remove any fully opened clams to a bowl, then cover again and continue to steam a minute more at a time until all clams are fully open. Discard any that do not open after 10 minutes.
When the pasta is about 1 minute short of al dente, strain, reserving some of the pasta water, and add to the liquid in the saute pan. Let simmer in the juices until al dente, adding pasta water if there is not enough liquid. Season with salt and pepper to taste, be careful with the salt since the liquid given off by the clams may be quite salty already. Remove the pasta from the heat, add the parsley and toss well. You can either serve the clams in their shells on top of the pasta, or remove all clams from their shells, chop them, and toss with the finished pasta.