Pasta is one of my go to comfort foods. Whenever I’ve had a long or stressful day, a steaming bowl of cheesy noodles makes me feel better. Pasta is also a blank canvas dish and can be jazzed up with any ingredients that are lying around the kitchen. Everything from eggs and bacon to zucchini and pesto to cherry tomatoes and herbs make a delicious coating for pasta.
Recently I’ve been into putting together a simple variation of linguini con vongole. This classic Italian dish normally has fresh succulent clams and linguini, but I make a pantry version with canned clams and whatever pasta I have on hand (usually spaghetti). I add anchovies because I think it gives the sauce a wonderful depth of flavor. Don’t be afraid of them! I promise you can’t taste them at all.
Spaghetti with Clams
2 teaspoons salt, plus more to taste
2 servings spaghetti
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large shallot, roughly chopped
4 small cloves garlic, minced
6-8 (about 1 heaping tablespoon) anchovy fillets (packed in oil), minced
Freshly ground black pepper
Pinch of red pepper flakes
1/3 cup white wine
1 tablespoon milk or cream, optional
1 6.5 ounce can chopped clams in clam juice
1/2 heaping cup finely grated parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
1/4 cup chopped fresh herbs (parsley, thyme, oregano, basil)
1 tablespoon cold butter
- Bring a large pot of water, seasoned with 2 teaspoons of salt, to a boil. Add the spaghetti and cook one minute less than instructed on the outside of the pasta package. Do not drain.
- Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
- Add the shallots and cook for 3 minutes until soft and fragrant.
- Add the anchovies and garlic and cook, breaking the anchovies into pieces for 4-5 minutes. Season with salt, freshly ground black pepper, and red pepper flakes. Take care not to brown the garlic. You want all the flavors to meld and get slightly caramelized. When the garlic and anchovies are just starting to stick to the bottom of the pan, deglaze by pouring in the wine.
- Raise the heat and simmer, for 3-4 minutes until the wine is almost all evaporated. Stir in the milk or cream if using.
- When the pasta is almost ready, add the clams and their juices to the pan with the wine and anchovies. Stir everything to combine and simmer for another 2 minutes to thicken the sauce.
- Add the cooked pasta to the pan with the clam wine mixture. Add a little bit of cooking water to thin out the sauce, if necessary.
- Add the cheese, herbs, and cold butter. Season generously with salt and pepper and toss everything to combine the pasta with the clams and coat the pasta in the sauce.
- Serve immediately with freshly ground black pepper and finely grated parmesan cheese, if desired.