Spaghetti with Clams
Zuni Cafe substituted spaghetti for the more traditional linguine in their version of this Italian classic one day because, “the skinny linguine we usually use was out of stock”.
- ½ tender bread crumbs made from day-old country-style bread ground in a food processor
- 8 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
- 5 tbsp. dry white wine
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup ripe sweetest, most fragrant cherry tomatoes available, preferably sweet 100s, halved
- ½ lb. dried spaghetti
- 2-4 cloves garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped
- ¼-½ tsp. marash pepper flakes or 2 pinches dried red pepper flakes
- 1¼-1½ lb. smallest manila clams or cockles, scrubbed
- Leaves from 3 branches basil (about 1 cup), coarsely chopped
- Sprigs from 6 stems flat-leaf parsley, coarsely chopped
- Preheat oven to 400°. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Meanwhile, use your fingertips to combine bread crumbs, 2 tbsp. of the oil, 1⁄4 tsp. salt, and 1⁄4 tsp. of the wine in a small bowl. Spread bread crumb mixture out on a baking sheet and toast in oven until unevenly golden, 5-7 minutes. Season to taste with pepper and toss while still warm. Set aside in a warm spot.
- Put tomatoes in a bowl, season with a few pinches of salt, and set aside. Add pasta to boiling water and cook until just tender, about 12 minutes. Meanwhile, put garlic, red pepper flakes, clams, and remaining oil and wine into a large skillet, cover tightly, and cook over high heat, swirling skillet over heat occasionally, until all clams have popped open, 2-5 minutes. Discard any clams that refuse to open. Uncover skillet and reduce heat to medium-low. Taste the brothy liquid in the skillet; it should be very flavorful. If it’s not, simmer it a bit to reduce it and concentrate the flavors. Fold in tomatoes, basil, and parsley and simmer until just warmed through, about 3 minutes.
- Drain pasta, add to skillet with clams, and toss well. Adjust salt to taste. Transfer to a platter, sprinkle with the bread crumb mixture, and serve immediately.