Linguine with clams, cooked like risotto
1.5kg clams – use mussels if you can’t get hold of clams
5 tbsp olive oil
2 large garlic cloves, one bruised with the side of a knife, the other finely chopped
100g bunch of flat leaf parsley, stalks and leaves separated A couple of pinches of dried chilli flakes, or to taste
200ml white wine
1 red onion or shallot, finely diced 30g butter
1 lemon, for squeezing
Extra virgin olive oil, to drizzle
Soak the clams in their shells in well-salted water for at least two hours (you can put them in a bowl in the fridge), then wash them in fresh water. Discard any that are broken or dead (tap each shell on the worktop – they should close).
Heat three tablespoons of olive oil in a saucepan large enough to cook the clams (they shouldn’t be too crowded or the shells may not open). When the oil is hot, drop in the bruised garlic clove – this will release the aromatics.
Add the clams to the pan and shake. Next add the parsley stalks, a pinch of dried chilli flakes, and the white wine. Bring to the boil and cook with the lid on over a high heat for three to four minutes. Most of the shells should have opened by then; give them a hand by shaking the pan every now and then.
When the clams are cooked, set a colander over a large bowl and drain the clams, catching the cooking liquid in the bowl. Transfer this to a pint glass to allow any grit to fall to the bottom.
Cook the linguine in a large pan of lightly salted water, until just soft – about two minutes. Leave in the water until needed.
In a large non-stick frying or sauté pan, heat the remaining two tablespoons of oil over a medium heat and add the chopped garlic and onion or shallot. Add a pinch of chilli flakes (more if you like it hotter) and cook for one minute.
Scoop out the pasta with a slotted spoon or ladle and add it to the frying pan. Pour over the clam cooking juices, being careful to leave any grit in the glass. Bring to the boil but hang on to the pasta water in case the pan boils dry.
Cook the pasta in the boiling clam juices for about six to eight minutes. Halfway through, dot the butter over the pasta and stir it in as it melts. If the pan shows any sign of drying, add a bit of reserved pasta water, as you would with a risotto.
Keep stirring the pasta to ensure it doesn’t stick to the pan. By the end you will have fluffed up pasta that is coated with a thick starchy sauce.
Pick most of the clams from their shells and add them all to the pasta. Leave loosely covered with heat turned off for three minutes for the pasta to absorb the juices.
Finish with lemon juice to taste, the parsley leaves (chopped) and a good slug of your best olive oil, and stir it all together. Check the seasoning (the clam juices should ensure it is salty enough) and serve in large warmed pasta bowls.