Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Linguine with Mussels and Clams


Can I just say, I have the best friends. At the end of our first official day in our new house, our friends Brian and Danielle came by bearing really good gifts, including champagne, freshly shucked oysters on the half shell, stone crab, and plenty of cocktail sauce and lemon. As we started to dig in and say goodbye to our first day of hard work, Shawn and Melissa showed up to welcome us to the neighborhood with a blender full of fresh fruit daiquiris. We feasted and shared drinks, and when we ran out, my husband mixed up another batch to keep the impromptu party going. Except, we only had stuff on hand for margaritas. Champagne, vodka and now tequila. Then, for good measure, we ordered pizza from our restaurant for dinner. To sit amongst boxes eating really good pizza in a new house with friends and family might be one of my favorite things in the world.To say it was a fun night would be an understatement.



When it came time to finally go grocery shopping and get back to real life, it only seemed fitting that the first meal I would make in our new house should involve shellfish. Luckily, I had caught part of a "Giada At Home" episode on the Food Network during my unpacking. And what do you know? She was making a Capri, Italy inspired meal with a sumptuous looking linguini with clams and mussels for the main dish which included shallots, wine, vegetable broth and a touch of butter. I liked that she only used as much butter as was needed and didn't drench the dish with it, like so many other shellfish pasta recipes. She adds parsley, but I knew I'd be throwing in some basil too.

I love when a dinner causes my kitchen to look like this:



I used to be scared of cooking with shellfish, but theres really no good reason for it. I just didn't know how. They are actually economical too. I bought all the shellfish for this recipe for seven dollars. As long as you get your shellfish from a good source, like a meat and seafood place, you should be good go to. Another great tip is to ask which days they get their fresh seafood shipments in. I usually only buy fish on the day it comes in, and then make it that night for dinner. Freshness is key for avoiding a strong seafood flavor. If you don't care for any seafood flavor at all, just use all clams instead of the mussels. They are light and a have pleasant, mild taste. The last thing I do to ensure my dish is great, is to soak my shellfish in a mixture of flour and cool water before cooking. The mussels and clams will absorb the flour and spit out any sand that might be in their shells leaving you without any surprise grit.

Soaking the shellfish looks sort of gross, but it's a necessary step

Light, summery and flavorful and pretty dang easy and fast. Love this one!

Linguine with Mussels and Clams
adapted from Giada At Home, by Giada De Laurentiis
serves 4

1 lb linguine pasta (I used whole wheat)
2 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
12 large basil leaves, julienned
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 large or 4 small shallots, sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup white wine (recommended: Pinot Grigio)
1 cup vegetable broth
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
12 littleneck or manilla clams, cleaned
12 mussels, cleaned

About 30 minutes before starting dinner, fill a medium sized bowl with fresh cold water and 1/4 cup of all purpose flour and stir to combine. Add the clams and mussel tot he bowl and soak for 30 minutes. During this time, the shellfish should absorb the fresh water and flour and discard any sand. Drain and rinse the shells and place in a bowl in the fridge until you are ready to use them.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain and transfer to a large serving bowl. Add the butter and parsley and toss until coated. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

In a large skillet or saucepan, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the hsallots and season with salt and ppper to taste. Cook, stirring frequently, until soft, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds until aromatic. Add the wine and simmer until the liquid has reduced by half, about 2 minutes. Stir in the broth, red pepper flakes, clams and mussels. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. bring the mixture to a simmer. Cover the pan with a tight-fitting lid and cook until all the shellfish have opened, about 5 to 8 minutes. Discard any unopened shellfish.

Using tongs, remove the shellfish from the pan and reserve. Season the cooking liquid with 2 teaspoons of salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Pour the shellfish cooking liquid over the pasta, add the basil and toss well. Season with salt and pepper again, to taste. Arrange the reserved shellfish on top of the pasta and serve. Make sure you get a little of the broth in the bottom of your bowl. That's the best part.

For novice cooks, I'll note that when a recipe calls for clams or mussels to be "cleaned", it means the mussels beard should be pulled off (a tiny piece that sticks out from the shell. Mine were bought already done) and the shells should be run under cool water and scrubbed with a brush to remove any small sand particles. Make sure the water is cool. If it's warm, you could cause the shellfish to die. No bueno. The way you know if a shellfish is safe to eat is, when cooked, their shells will open to expose the meat inside. If one does not open, discard it. The rest of your dish will be fine.


  1. This is one of my favorite meals! I never thought to let the seafood soak to get rid of the grit. We always try to scrub and pull it off. Awesome tip! :)

  2. I have been really scared to try cooking with seafood, especially shellfish!! I have been getting a bit more adventurous and creative lately so maybe I will make this my summer goal :)

  3. Great recipe and lots of helpful tips! Seafood linguine is one of my all-time favourite pasta dishes. I will have to attempt this at home sometime soon!

  4. Oh yum, yum, yummy! This looks similar to a dish I used to order when I lived in the Medd. Thanks for the tip on cleaning the shell fish! So much easier than what I was doing!

  5. Linguine with Clams is my favorite. I must say this recipe looks FAR better than my current recipe. Can't wait to try.... "anything with shallots and garlic" i say!

  6. Well. I live in Steamboat and saw your article in the latest edition of Steamboat Magazine. I am an avid food- blog- follower. When I have a few minutes at work, I check out my favorite food blogs while my co-workers are checking out Facebook. I too tolerate winters and look forward to beach vacations and summers in the 'boat. Your photos are lovely and can't wait to try the linguine with clams. Have yet to tackle that one. Wonder if you still own an Italian restaurant in town? Look forward to following your posts as they will add another layer of familiarity living in the same place.

  7. Hey, thanks for stopping by, person from Steamboat! Sorry, I don't know your name :) Yes, we own 50% of Mambo Italiano in town. I love their pizza, as you could probably tell from my post. Thanks for commenting also. I like getting to know people through the blog.