Linguine, Zucchini and Clams!

SERVES: 6

This recipe diverges from the classic in a few ways all of which are upgrades, in my humble opinion. First, you’ll add tons of caramelized zucchini to the pasta which will break down and become one with the clam liquor and butter sauce, clinging to the noodles and intermingling with the clams. Secondly, you’re going to add parmesan cheese. And I don’t want to hear any complaints! I promise the combo of clams and parm is perfection. Lastly, I have called for a mix of dill and basil here. I recognize that basil is probably not the first herb that comes to mind when you think of clams but trust me, it works.

Active Time: 1 hr

Total Time: 1 hr

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Produce

  • 4 lbs zucchini or summer squash
  • 1 large garlic head
  • 2 bunches dill and/or basil
  • 2 lemons

Pantry

  • ⅓ cup olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 lb linguine or spaghetti

Dairy

  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 ½ ounces Parmigiano Reggiano, plus more for serving

Protein

  • 3 lbs clams (littleneck or cherrystone)

1. Cook the zucchini:

  • Preheat the oven to 450. Place 2 large rimmed baking sheets in the oven on separate racks as it preheats (you will add the zucchini to them once hot to speed up the cooking/browning process).
  • Trim the ends of 4 lbs of zucchini, thinly slice crosswise into rounds about ¼” thick. Transfer all the rounds to a large bowl and toss with ⅓ cup olive oil. Season well with salt and pepper. Once the oven has preheated, toss the zucchini on the preheated baking sheets, spreading out to cover them evenly and roast, switching the trays halfway through, until some of the zucchini are nicely browned and caramelized and others are just soft and cooked through, 30-40 minutes. You will see a mix of textures ranging from crisp and charred to soft and pale depending on where they are on the baking sheet and that’s great! These are all welcome in the dish. Remove from oven and let hang out until you are ready to use them later on. While the zucchini cook, start the rest of the prep.

2. Do some prep:

  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
  • Place 3 lbs clams in a large bowl, cover with cold water and let sit 15 minutes to rinse/clear of any sand.
  • Peel and thinly slice the cloves of 1 entire head of garlic.
  • Measure out 1 cup dry white wine.
  • Coarsely chop or tear the leaves of 2 bunches of herbs (I prefer a mix of both dill and basil. Set aside.

3. Cook the clams and pasta:

  • Heat a large Dutch oven over medium. Once hot, add 3 tablespoons of butter and swirl to melt . Once melted, immediately add the garlic, two pinches red pepper flakes (you can always add more later on as well), and a pinch of salt. Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, until the garlic is very fragrant and softened but not browned, 3-4 minutes.
  • Stir in 1 cup dry white wine. Increase the heat to medium and cook, stirring until the wine has mostly cooked off and reduced substantially – the pot should not be dry but there should be about half as much liquid left, 4-6 minutes.
    Remove the clams from their cold water, shaking off any excess, and add to the pot. Stir to coat the clams in the garlic butter, then quickly add the lid. Cook, stirring once after about 5 minutes to ensure even coating and returning the lid right after, until all the clams have opened, 8-12 minutes. If you notice some opening sooner than others, pluck out those that have opened and transfer to a plate. Add the remaining clams to the plate as they open.
  • Once the clams have just begun to start opening, drop 1 lb of pasta into the boiling water and stir well. Set a timer for 5 minutes (or just keep an eye on the clock). You’re going to cook the pasta only part of the way in the pot of water–the rest of it will cook in the pot of clam sauce for maximal flavor absorption.
  • Once all the clams have opened and been removed and the pasta is about half way cooked, add the pasta to the pot of clam sauce along with 1 cup of pasta cooking water. Make sure to reserve some more of the pasta water (2 cups or so) for adding later on as needed.
  • Add the remaining 5 tablespoons butter to the clam sauce and pasta. Continue cooking the pasta over medium heat, in the clam sauce, tossing frequently with tongs, until al dente, and adding more splashes of pasta water if its reducing too fast–the pasta should ultimately be quite saucy, loose and buttery, not dry at all, so make sure to add enough pasta water to achieve that consistency.

4. Finish:

  • Remove from the heat, add all of the zucchini, and squeeze in the juice of 2 lemons, and 1 ½ ounces finely grated parm and toss well to incorporate. Season the sauce with more salt and red pepper flakes as needed.
  • Stir in most of the chopped/torn herbs, reserving some for garnish.
  • If the clams need to be reheated, you can throw them back on top of the pasta and cover the lid for a minute or two, they should rewarm from the residual heat of the pot.
  • Serve straight out of the pot, or transfer the pasta to a large serving bowl and top with clams. Grate more cheese over top, garnish with remaining herbs and serve!!

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