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Champagne and Cream Clams with Linguine

  • Serves: 6
  • Prep Time: 15 min
  • Cook Time: 25 min
  • Calories: 425
Steamed Clams With Linguini, cream and parsley

Wherever you are and whatever your view, our classic linguine with clams in white wine sauce will have you dreaming of Italian vistas and sunny blue skies.

Our Simple Linguine Alle Vongole is a Classic Italian Seafood Dinner at Its Easiest Best!

Beloved throughout Italy as well as the U.S., classic, simple pasta with clam sauce is a recipe that every true food lover should have up their sleeve. Like all great peasant foods of the world, linguine alle vongole (translation: linguine with clams) it dates back to who-knows-when, and it’s incredibly basic in both ingredients and technique. Spaghetti is a popular pasta to pair with clams—and it’s probably the most common pasta choice for pasta alle vongole in Venice, where the dish is arguably most popular—but we’re partial to the slightly thicker, more sturdy linguine noodles. That said, any long pasta that you love will work just fine here—if you’re a fettuccine lover, go ahead and use that. We won’t report you to the Italian cuisine bureau of authenticity or anything, we promise. There are 5 key ingredients you’ll need to make truly great linguine with clams, and though in our recipe, we’ve dressed them up a bit with a splash of cream, fresh lemon and some additional fresh herbs, these five elements are the beating heart of this Italian beauty of a recipe. The core ingredients of this easy linguine with clam sauce recipe are:

  • Linguine. Or spaghetti, or fettuccine, tagliatelle or even bucatini. Like we said—it’s OK to use what you’ve got. Linguine with clams originated as a subsistence food, a recipe that uses and celebrates what’s on hand, what’s fresh, what’s good today, and carefully chosen substitutions are well within the spirit of classic “peasant” food like this.

  • Clams. Manila clams are our go-to pick—and yes, we’re talking fresh clams, not canned—but we’ll dive into this more in a minute!

  • White wine, or you could even use sparkling wine if you want to make this recipe feel a little extra festive (and / or are looking for an excuse to pop a bottle of bubbly!).

  • Parsley. Every single linguine or spaghetti with clam sauce recipe we’ve ever read includes parsley. It’s the not-so-secret secret ingredient that makes the dish pop with color and come alive with a springy freshness. Do not skip it! Authentic linguine with clams needs fresh parsley—end of story.

  • Garlic. Of course.

  • Extras. This version of linguine with clams gets, admittedly, a little fancy. We just wanted to be sure it was the best, best, best ever, so we added a few basic things to take the recipe from good and classic to completely unforgettable. Our recipe includes: butter, a little heavy cream, shallots, fresh lemon, tarragon and thyme. We also finish it with a bit of Parmesan. Yes, to some Italians cheese on a seafood pasta is complete sacrilege. But to us, it’s just really delicious. Some taboos were made to be broken, OK?

parsley, thyme and tarragon on a marble counter

To Make the Best Linguine with Clams, Buy the Best Clams!

This is maybe sort of obvious, but the key with a recipe like linguine alle vongole that relies heavily on just a few classic ingredients is making sure that all of the ingredients are the very best quality you can find. There’s nowhere for a sub-par clam to hide in a recipe like this (also a sub-par clam is just not something you want to mess around with for, uh, obvious reasons.), so head to the store ready and excited to pick out the very best clams you can, and steer clear of the canned food aisle. Here’s what you need to know about buying and cooking with fresh clams:

  • For this recipe you’ll need fresh, live clams in the shell. If you’re new to these sweet little bivalves, just take that phrase—fresh, live clams in the shell—right up to the fish counter and they should know what you’re talking about.

  • Live clams should have their shells firmly closed. Occasionally a live clam will open its shell slightly to breathe—a gentle tap on the shell should encourage it to close. If the clam doesn’t move, that means it’s dead and should be discarded. Although hopefully your fishmonger didn’t give you any of those!

  • Some clam recipes will tell you to “purge” the clams before cooking with them—that is, to soak them in cold water for a while to encourage them to release any grit or sand. However, we’ve found purging clams to be an unnecessary step with the majority of supermarket clams, which are often purged before heading to the market.

Steamed Clams With Linguini in a white wine sauce in a pan next to a baguette on a linen
Steamed Clams With Linguini in a bowl with a lemon half

What Kind of Wine Goes With Clam Linguine?

White wine! White wine goes not just with linguine and clams, but it goes into linguine with clam sauce! Since this is an Italian recipe, we’re partial to using classic (if often lesser known!) Italian white wine varietals. If you’d like to have a little fun with the wine element of this recipe—and after all, you’ll only put one cup of the wine into the pan, so you’ll probably be drinking the rest—maybe take the opportunity to try a new wine that you’re excited about. Here are four Italian white wines that would work beautifully in this clam linguine recipe:

  • Vernaccia di San Gimignano. Dry and bright, often with a bit of minerality, Vernaccia is a great choice for this recipe! It’s a perfect match for the briny clams and fresh herbs.

  • Soave. Soave wine is experiencing a bit of a resurgence. Particularly if you do your wine shopping at a small specialty store, you can really find some gems in this category!

  • Verdicchio. A bit fruity and perfumey, Verdicchio is a lovely full-bodied white wine.

  • Prosecco. Yep, you can totally use a sparkling wine for making linguine with clam sauce! Plus, linguine alle vongole is an iconic dish in Venice, and Prosecco—which hails from that region of Italy, too—is therefore a really natural pairing.

two ladies in a kitchen cooking Steamed Clams With Linguini
Steamed Clams With Linguini with cream and parmesan next to a pit of pasta and parsley

How Do You Make Clam Sauce From Scratch?

Clam sauce seems sort of fancy, right? It’s a classic restaurant dish, and it’s a little showy, with the wide open shells and bright green sprinklings of fresh herbs. But, despite its stunning appearance and deliciously complex flavor, linguine with fresh clams is a simple dish. Here’s how to make it:

  1. Sauté the shallot in a bit of butter until it’s translucent.

  2. Add the garlic and, a few minutes later, the clams. Cook until most of the clams (if not all) have opened. Discard any clams that don’t open.

  3. Pick all of the clams out of the pan, leaving all of the lovely juices. Tongs are very helpful for this step.

  4. Make the sauce! Pour the white wine and stock into the pan, and sprinkle with the thyme & tarragon and bring the sauce to a boil.

  5. After the sauce has thickened a bit, add the cream and a bit more butter. Let it simmer and reduce just a bit more.

  6. Take the pan off the heat and stir in the lemon juice.

  7. Voila! You made clam sauce! Now toss the sauce and clams and linguine all together, dress it up with fresh parsley and serve. Top with Parmesan if you’d like and dig in!

a bowl of Steamed Clams With Linguini a loaf of bread with a linen
Steamed Clams With Linguini, cream and parsley

What Do You Serve With Clams and Linguine?

We’ve been known to enjoy this beautiful pasta all on its own, but admittedly it could use a green vegetable or salad to really be considered a meal. Try serving it with:

Tools You’ll Need:

a bowl of Steamed Clams With Linguini a loaf of bread with a linen
a bowl of Steamed Clams With Linguini a loaf of bread with a linen

Cheaper Than a Ticket to Venice and Almost as Satisfying.

Linguine with clam sauce is a bit of an everyday (or every month, maybe) treat—it’s a taste of luxury that’s well within reach, and it’s pasta, so it’s usually a hit with the whole family (even if certain family members have been known to pick the clams out—ahem). Try the recipe, and let us know how you like it, OK? Share a photo and tag us on Instagram using @themodernproper and #themodernproper so that we can see your stuff! Happy eating!

Champagne and Cream Clams with Linguine

  • Serves: 6
  • Prep Time: 15 min
  • Cook Time: 25 min
  • Calories: 425

Ingredients

  • 4 tbsp Butter, divided
  • 1 Shallot, finely chopped
  • 4-6 Cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 lb Clams (we used the manila variety)
  • 1 cup Champagne or white wine
  • 1 cup Chicken stock
  • 2 Sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 tbsp Fresh tarragon
  • 1/2 cup Heavy cream
  • Zest & juice of 1 lemon
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3/4 lb Linguine, cooked according to instructions
  • Flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • 4 oz Parmesan cheese, grated

Method

  1. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a large sauté pan set over medium heat.
  2. Add the shallots and sauté for 3 minutes.
  3. Add the garlic and cook for 3 minutes longer until softened, stirring occasionally.
  4. Add the clams to the pan and cook for another 5 minutes. Remove the clams from the pan, set aside.
  5. Add the champagne, chicken stock, thyme & tarragon to the pan. Bring to a boil then reduce to a rolling simmer and cook until reduced to 2 cups, stirring occasionally.
  6. Add the cream and additional 2 tablespoons of butter and simmer for 3 minutes until sauce is beginning to thicken.
  7. Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon juice.
  8. Season with salt and pepper. Serve clams over cooked linguine, garnished with parsley and parmesan cheese, alongside grilled crusty french or sourdough bread.

Champagne and Cream Clams with Linguine

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