"I look forward to going to Sicily for many reasons," says Frank Castronovo of his biannual trip to southern Italy. "One of them is because I'm amazed at how many times Frank [Falcinelli] can order linguine con vongole." Their exquisite, supersimple version is packed with garlic and a judicious amount of crushed red pepper. If you prefer, shell the clams before tossing them with their juices in the pasta.
More Excellent Pastas
1 pound spaghetti
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
2 dozen littleneck clams, scrubbed
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
Freshly ground black pepper
How to Make It
In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the spaghetti until just al dente, then drain the pasta well.
Meanwhile, in a large, deep skillet, heat the olive oil. Add the minced garlic and crushed red pepper and cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until the garlic is lightly browned, about 1 1/2 minutes. Add the clams and water, cover and simmer until the clams open and are just cooked through, 5 to 8 minutes. Discard any clams that don't open.
Add the spaghetti and the chopped parsley to the clams in the skillet and season with pepper. Toss over moderately high heat just until the spaghetti absorbs some of the juices, about 1 minute. Transfer the spaghetti and clams to shallow bowls and serve right away.
Sicily's warm climate tends to produce relatively full-bodied white wines, but the island's native grape varieties retain a nice edge of acidity, making them ideal for this olive oilinfused clam pasta. Try a blend of Inzolia, Catarratto and Grecanico, or a blend of Ansonica and Catarratto.
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