Linguine with White Clam Sauce

Serving Size: 4
Prep Time:
Total Time:

Want quick, delicious, and healthy? Here's a pasta filled with tradition and flavor that upholds Italian standards. Many recipes use too much olive oil and butter to coat the pasta, but I feel that this not only adds unhealthy calories and carbs but also muddles the fresh flavor of the clams. Much like the Clams Oreganata (page 60), this dish was prepared from the freshest clams I've ever used while I was in Italy, and thus, they gave extraordinary results. Each clam was inspected at the fish shop by an apprentice, who threw it on a table and listened for a healthy nonhollow "thud" sound before it was sold. So whatever part of the country you live in, find the most local clam and use that for this dish. If this doesn't turn out to be one of your favorite dishes, then knock me over with a piece of limp linguine.


  • salt
  • 8 Ounce quinoa linguine, such as Ancient Harvest
  • 48 whole cherrystone clams, freshly shucked by your fishmonger, juice reserved, about 1 1/2 pints
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • cloves garlic, chopped
  • 0.125 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 0.5 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf Italian parsley
  • 2 (1/4-inch) lemon slices, plus 4 wedges for serving
  • freshly ground black pepper


Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot and add 2 tablespoons salt. Add the pasta and cook for 5 minutes. The pasta will not fully cook until later. 

Chop the clams and transfer them to a bowl. Scrape the clam juice into the bowl.

Heat the olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat for 2 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until the garlic turns golden brown, about 2 minutes (see page 32). Add the red pepper flakes, parsley, and lemon slices and turn off the heat.

Drain the pasta and add to the skillet along with the clam juice; toss, cover, and turn off the heat. Wait 5 minutes, then remove the lid and bring the pasta to a simmer over medium heat. The pasta should be just al dente. Add the chopped clams and toss everything to coat evenly. Be careful not to break up the pasta. Remove the lemon slices and discard them. Season with salt and pepper and remove from the heat.

Divide the pasta among 4 pasta bowls or plates and serve with the lemon wedges.

Tips: Quinoa pasta requires great care in handling, as it is very fragile. Be sure to cook it at a slow boil, avoid using tongs, and mix it with a large heat-resistant rubber spatula. 

Check for shells before you chop the clams.

Gauge Freshness by Weight: Extremely fresh clams are as heavy as a stone, because the seawater inside hasn't yet evaporated due to prolonged exposure to air.

Check out the video playlist above to watch Rocco make this recipe.

In "Now Eat This! Italy," watch New York Times best-selling author and celebrity chef Rocco DiSpirito as he travels to Italy to learn how to make all our favorite Italian dishes from the real Mamas of Italy like lasagna Bolognese with Lucia Ercolano, Spaghetti Vongole with Daniella Miccio and Insalata Caprese with Maria Ercolano. In this unique intersection of travel, adventure, culinary and healthy Rocco answers the question, "Can you eat pasta and lose weight?"

Produced: 2013 By: Savory Place Media