Spaghetti with Clams and Crispy Bread Crumbs

Top Chef finalist Sarah Grueneberg toasts bread crumbs in olive oil until crispy to sprinkle over pasta dishes, like this simple spaghetti and clams.

Spaghetti with Calms and Crispy Bread Crumbs
Photo: © Christina Holmes
Total Time:
30 mins


  • 1/4 cup panko

  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling

  • Kosher salt

  • Freshly ground pepper

  • 2 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced

  • 3 dozen Manila clams or cockles, scrubbed

  • 1 cup dry white wine

  • 1 pound spaghetti

  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

  • 2 1/2 tablespoons finely grated mullet bottarga (optional; see Note)

  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper

  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped thyme

  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped rosemary

  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley


  1. In a medium skillet, combine the panko with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and toast over moderate heat, tossing, until golden, about 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and transfer to a small bowl.

  2. In a deep skillet, heat the remaining 1/4 cup of oil. Add the garlic and cook over moderate heat until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the clams and wine and simmer over moderately high heat until the wine is slightly reduced and the clams just start to open, about 4 minutes.

  3. Meanwhile, in a large pot of salted boiling water, cook the pasta until al dente. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking water. Add the pasta, cooking water, lemon zest and juice, bottarga, red pepper and herbs to the clams and toss over moderately high heat until the pasta is well coated and the clams are completely open, 2 minutes. Discard any clams that do not open. Season with salt and pepper, sprinkle with the toasted panko and serve.


Bottarga is the roe of tuna or mullet that has been salted, pressed and dried; it can be grated or shaved paper-thin. It is available at specialty food stores and online at and

Suggested Pairing

White wines from coastal areas tend to pair wonderfully with seafood, like the clams in this super-briny pasta dish. Pour a Bianchetta Genovese from Liguria or a Muscadet from France’s Loire Valley.

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