Pasta with shellfish is one of my favorite combinations, but I was never really a fan of the clam sauces that are served in many restaurants – chewy chopped clams in either a marinara or alfredo sauce, scooped on top of a pile of soggy noodles. This light, fresh version is neither a white sauce nor a red sauce, but it combines some of the best elements of both. It has quite a bit of heat from the chiles, so feel free to adjust the amount to your taste.
This is a simple meal that comes together extremely quickly. Get a big pot of water boiling to cook your pasta, prep your sauce ingredients while you wait, and the hard part is done – the actual cooking takes just minutes.
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, sliced
1/2 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
1 teaspoon red chile flakes
18 littleneck clams, scrubbed
1 cup white wine (I used a Venetian Pinot Bianco which we also drank with the dish)
1/2 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/4 cup chopped basil or mint
1/2 lb. linguine or spaghetti
Cook the pasta in an abundant amount of salted water, according to package directions.
While the pasta cooks, sauté garlic in olive oil until fragrant. Add the cherry tomatoes with a pinch of salt and cook until softened. Add the chile flakes, clams, wine and half of the herbs, cover the pan and allow the clams to steam open, gently shaking the pan a few times while they cook. Discard any clams that do not open. When the pasta is just short of al dente, add it directly to the pan that the clams and sauce are cooking in and toss through to coat. Allow the pasta to continue cooking in the sauce for just a few minutes, then plate and sprinkle the remaining fresh herbs on top.