Clear as day, I remember the first time I had white clam sauce. I was probably 8 or 9 and out to dinner with my family at this great pasta restaurant on the Connecticut shoreline. The restaurant is not there anymore, but when it was it could be relied on for amazing, delicious housemade pasta dishes served with bread so fresh it was still warm from the oven. I remember reading the menu and wondering why the white clam sauce was so different from the red sauce, which I knew I liked. I asked and was told it wasn’t as good as the red sauce. Still intrigued, I ordered it anyway. White clam sauce is a different world from its red counterpart. It’s nuanced in flavor, lighter in texture and ultimately lets the clams really be the star, supported by garlic and other flavors. Usually, it has butter and white wine in it to round out the flavors as well — though not always, as this recipe attests. And yes, that first time I tried it, I did like it. When I recently received a review copy of Cristina Ferrare’s Big Bowl of Love: Delight Family and Friends with More than 150 Simple, Fabulous Recipes, I totally and immediately gravitated to Cristina Farrare’s recipe for clam sauce. It’s a simple version made with ingredients you probably have in the pantry (plus fresh parsley). For the fresh parsley, I ran out to my herb garden and cut some to use, but it’s also readily available at the grocery store. Then, the pasta came together super fast. Less than 20 minutes later, I was taking photos of the final dish. I loved that it’s this easy and simple to make. Also, the infusion of lemon really makes it amazing. So far, I am loving Cristina Ferrare’s cookbook. When I opened it, it instantly inspired me to get into the kitchen and try something, which is a reliable sign of a well-done cookbook. The recipes and photos (and let’s face it: photos are a must in today’s cookbooks) make you want to try everything. And if this recipe is any indication, the flavors are worth the effort. I adapted this recipe ever so slightly from Cristina Ferrare’s Big Bowl of Love.
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 cup loosely packed Italian parsley
- 1/4 tsp hot red pepper flakes
- 6 1/2- ounce can minced clams in clam juice
- 8 oz pasta of your choice cooked
- 1-2 tbsp lemon juice, fresh is best
- Lemon wedges for garnishing
- Heat a medium sauce pan on medium-high heat on the stove for 30 seconds, then add the oil and let that heat up for a minute. Toss in the garlic, parsley and red pepper flakes. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the garlic starts to color. As soon as it does (and not a second later!) pour in the clams and their juice. Stir well, and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook for 2 minutes and then remove from heat.
- Toss the sauce with the cooked pasta and lemon juice in pan for 30 seconds, while set over medium heat. Serve immediately.
Sarah Walker Caron is a cookbook author, freelance writer and founder of Sarah’s Cucina Bella. She is the author of several cookbooks including The Super Easy 5-Ingredient Cookbook and One-Pot Pasta, both from Rockridge Press. A single mother to two kids in middle school, Sarah loves nightly family dinners, juicy tomatoes plucked fresh from the vine and lazy days on the beach. She also adores reading and traveling.