To give spaghetti with fresh clam sauce more flavor, chef Ashley Christensen purees sweet roasted bell peppers into the spicy, briny broth.
In 2018, Food & Wine named this recipe one of our 40 best: We didn't think spaghetti and clams could get better than the garlicky classic until chef Ashley Christensen of Poole’s Diner in Raleigh, North Carolina, created a version that forever changed the way we look at this dish. Her method is to steam the clams in wine, then puree the resulting broth with roasted red peppers, creating a briny, rich, deeply flavorful sauce that clings to the pasta—no leaving any delicious sauce behind in the bowl. Adding a hefty load of Swiss chard helps to amp up the flavor, creating a fabulously satisfying one-dish wonder.
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
8 garlic cloves, crushed
4 dozen littleneck clams
2 cups dry white wine
2 jarred roasted red peppers, drained
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 pound Swiss chard or collard greens, stemmed and chopped (8 cups)
1/2 pound spaghetti
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed and chilled
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus more for garnish
How to Make It
In a large pot, heat 1/4 cup of the oil. Add half of the garlic and cook over moderate heat, stirring, for 1 minute. Stir in the clams. Add the wine and bring to a boil. Cover and cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, 5 to 7 minutes; as the clams open, transfer them to a baking sheet. Discard any unopened clams. Strain the cooking liquid through a sieve into a blender. Add the roasted peppers and puree until smooth.
Wash out the pot, then heat the remaining 1/4 cup of oil in it. Add the remaining garlic and cook over moderate heat, stirring, for 1 minute. Stir in the crushed red pepper and Swiss chard in batches until the chard is just wilted, about 3 minutes. Stir in the roasted pepper broth and season with salt and pepper.
In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook the spaghetti until al dente; drain. Add the pasta to the Swiss chard mixture along with the butter, lemon zest, lemon juice and the 1/2 cup of grated cheese. Add the clams and toss to heat through. Transfer the pasta and broth to shallow bowls, garnish with grated cheese and serve.
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