Clams in a lemon-wine broth served over noodles from the spaghetti family is a common combination on Italian menus. It’s a simple dish, is easy to make, and if you use canned clams (which I do; I’m not picky about seafood), it’s fairly inexpensive. As far as ingredients, this dish has a lot of flexibility. The basic idea is a fairly thin sauce with heavy lemon, wine, and garlic flavors. I like to add in tomato and red bell pepper for extra flavor and color, but the dish will survive without them if you don’t want to bother. As for the garnish, it’s best with parsley and Parmesan. Thyme or basil might be all right, too, though I’ve never tested either one.
A word on the pasta: thin, long noodles tend to work best with this dish, especially if you like the sauce on the thin side like I do. I recommend spaghetti, angel hair, or linguine. I usually use spaghetti, but tonight I tried angel hair, as it’s a pasta I hadn’t yet cooked with and was curious about. A work of caution: angel hair pasta cooks VERY quickly, due to how thin it is. It requires about half the time as spaghetti (I gave it four minutes and thought it could still have used less time), and has notably less bite than many other pasta shapes. I personally prefer a lot of bite to my pasta, so angel hair may not be my first choice in the future. It’s really a matter of personal preference. If you like soft, airy pasta, go with angel hair. If you like a lot of bite, go for a thicker noodle.
Here are the basic ingredients to this dish (I’m leaving out a few personal touches to protect my creativity):
- Garlic, minced
- Onion, chopped
- Red bell pepper, chopped finely
- Olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- Pepper flakes (if you like things spicy)
- Lemon juice
- Canned clams (or fresh if you have that sort of money)
- Fresh tomatoes, diced
- Spaghetti, angel hair, or linguine
- Parmesan cheese