Pasta with White Clam Sauce

If you love shrimp scampi served over spaghetti, it’s a sure bet you’ll love spaghetti with white clam sauce or, as my Sicilian mother would say, spaghetti al vongole bianco.

When we were dating, Roger, my Swedish boyfriend, tried to impress me one day by showing me a few recipes he had cut out of the newspaper. He had never actually made any of them—but, when I saw the recipe for spaghetti with white clam sauce by actress Jill St. John, I was indeed impressed by his culinary aspirations and immediately volunteered to make it with him. That was 28 years ago, and Roger and I have been enjoying this delicious Italian pasta dish ever since.

Unfortunately, I lost my wonderful mom earlier this year; and Roger and I decided that we were going to honor her memory by celebrating the Italian Feast of the Seven Fishes this Christmas Eve. I grew up with this tradition but had let it lapse once I moved to Chicago away from my family and away from Boston which is synonymous with fresh fish. As we were brainstorming exactly which fish recipes to make, it was a given that we were going to include this wonderful spaghetti with white clam sauce.

Buon Appetito!

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Pasta with White Clam Sauce

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3 10-oz cans minced clams
Olive oil
2 tbl. butter
6 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup white wine, optional
4 tbl. chopped fresh parsley
1 1/2 lbs. vermicelli, angel hair pasta, or linguine, cooked al dente – be sure to save at least a cup of the pasta cooking water
Grated Romano cheese for serving


Strain clam juice (reserve clams) into saucepan and heat until liquid is reduced by half. In medium skillet, pour enough olive oil to cover the bottom of the pan. Add butter, garlic and 2 tablespoons of parsley. Cook over low heat until garlic is transparent.

Add wine if using. Add the reduced clam juice. Increase heat and let mixture come to a boil. Add clams and the remaining parsley and cook until clams are just heated through. Do not overcook or clams will become tough.

Pour over hot drained pasta. Garnish with remaining parsley. Add some of the reserved cooking water to moisten pasta to your preference. Serve with grated Romano cheese for sprinkling over pasta.

Source:  A pre-internet newspaper recipe by the actress, Jill St. John

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