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Linguine with Clams, Bacon and Tomatoes

A little wine and heat is all it takes to coax open these delicious shellfish, which cook inside their shells, forming a natural steamer. For a rustic presentation, keep the clams in their shells after they’ve cooked. Serve this dish with a simple green salad for a well-rounded meal.

Ingredients:

  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • 1 lb. (500 g) linguine
  • 3 Tbs. olive oil 
  • 3 oz. (90 g) chopped smoked bacon
  • 2 large shallots, thinly sliced
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes 
  • 1 cup (8 fl. oz./250 ml) dry white wine
  • 4 lb. (2 kg) Manila clams
  • 1/2 cup (2/3 oz./20 g) minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 cups (12 oz./375 g) cherry tomatoes, halved
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Directions:

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and simmer, stirring occasionally, until al dente (tender but still slightly firm to the bite), according to the package instructions.

Meanwhile, place a large fry pan over medium heat. Add
 2 Tbs. of the olive oil and the bacon and sauté until it is beginning to brown, about 2 minutes. Add the shallots and red pepper flakes and sauté for 1 minute. Add the wine and simmer until it is reduced by half, about 1 minute. Add the clams and 1/4 cup of the parsley. Cover the pan and steam until the clams just open, about 4 minutes. Discard any clams that failed to open. Stir in the tomatoes.

When the pasta is done, drain and return it to the pot. Add the remaining 1 Tbs. olive oil and a generous amount of black pepper and stir to coat. Cover to keep warm.

Transfer the pasta to a warmed serving bowl. Pour the sauce and clams over the top, sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 cup parsley and serve immediately. Serves 4.

Working with fresh clams: Buy the freshest clams you can from a fishmonger. To store them, place in a shallow bowl, cover with a damp kitchen towel and refrigerate. Serve them within 2 days of your purchase. Before cooking, scrub them under running water with a soft-bristled brush. An open or cracked shell is a signal that the clam is no longer alive and should be discarded.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Cook Good Food (Weldon Owen, 2014).