Italian Recipes/ Pasta

Linguini with White Clam Sauce and Howard Johnson’s

Linguini with White Clam Sauce
 Linguini with white clam sauce is a cook’s delight. Not only is this pasta recipe delicisioso, it can be made in minutes. Everyone loves this special classic pasta and no need for fresh clams!

Linguini with white clam sauce

 I never had linguini with white clam sauce until I left home. Mom didn’t make any pasta, except spaghetti, that I remember. I had to rely on my friends’ Italian mothers to introduce me to other versions of pasta.

Their homes are where I first discovered lasagna and manicotti and ziti and rigatoni and cannoli. I had no idea there was such a plethora of Italian food. I thought Italian food consisted of spaghetti and meatballs and pizza.

Well pasta and I soon became best friends, especially when I went off to college. There I made my first lasagna, really my first everything. And there I bought my first issue of Bon Appetit and started to cook for all my friends. I discovered that I enjoyed cooking and more importantly, I enjoyed eating.

OK. Finally, the linguini… the linguini with white clam sauce recipe that I discovered from the below book. When I graduated college, a family friend gave me several, very good, cookbooks.

One was Marcella Hazan’s, Classic Italian cookbook, 1976, and I have enjoyed that book ever since. In case you don’t know Marcella, well she is to Italian food, what Julia Child is to French food.

I probably decided to make this recipe because it is so short. And clams in the can and pasta were pretty cheap when I was in school!

 
The Classic Italian Cookbook

Oh, mama mia. Never having lived where fresh clams are available, I love this recipe because it can be made with canned clams and it is very tasty.  I have made this for countless occasions because it is quick and easy and full of garlic and wine.

Add a bit of butter and cheese which is rarely used in Italian clam sauces, though Marcella would tell you that it adds smoothness and delicacy to the sauce.

I have made it for my kids, often on their birthdays, from the age of 7, they have been requesting this. I remember telling them it was chicken, just like I told them calamari was chicken, and they have loved both ever since. No, I don’t remember when I divulged the truth!

Linguini with white clam sauce

How do you make linguini with clam sauce?

This recipe requires one can of clams. That’s it. They are already cooked and the clam juice is what is used to make the sauce. This linguini with clam sauce recipe starts with sauteing some garlic and shallots in a bit of olive oil.

Add some parsley, a touch of red chili flakes, stir and add wine. Let it reduce by about half. Just eyeball it! At this point you can keep this until you are ready to eat.

Then open your can of clams, (try to find baby clams), drain the clam juice into a measuring cup and you should have about 2/3 of a cup. Add this to the garlic and shallots and boil until clam juice has also been reduced to about half. Now stir in the clams.

The clams are already cooked. You are just warming them in the sauce. Add butter and cheese to give the sauce richness and this is ready to be served. I usually toss the white clam sauce with the pasta and then serve on individual plates.

Howard Johnson's restaurant

 Being the good Jewish girl I am, meant we never ate shellfish at home, but I quickly became enamored with the many different types. The first place I encountered clams was in the fried state at my good friend Howard Johnson’s.

Howard Johnson’s is not a place I frequent very often. In fact, I’m not sure I’ve been to one since I was an under age teenager in Kankakee. For that matter, I’m not even sure Ho Jo’s still exists. But when it did-well, let’s just say I have good memories of Howard Johnson’s.

Howard Johnson's ice cream ad
 

(In case you have no idea what I’m talking about-Howard Johnson’s was a motel chain that had a restaurant attached.) I remember that it had a strong turquoise and orange color palate and many natural materials, like vinyl, that covered the booths.

When you walked in there was a large ice cream counter right inside the front door. Kankakee didn’t have a lot of choices when it came to ice cream and my mom was an ice cream fanatic. We would often make a trip to get ice cream after certain school events; such as a play or a musical performance-those all called for ice cream, and away we went to Ho Jo’s. I think when Baskin Robbins moved to town that about did poor Ho Jo’s in.

I also remember Ho Jo’s because it stayed open late. After making it into high school and finding friends that drove; we always needed somewhere to drive. Because Howard Johnson’s wasn’t far away, it was often on our list to satisfy our late night munchies.

Eating a second dinner was one way we would waste our money. And yes, it was at Ho Jo’s, I believe, that I first had a clam roll. Clams were not something my mom would have ever made. so yes, it must have been Howard Johnson’s where I first had clams.

I loved the fried itsy bitsy clams that came on a soft white bun with white tartar sauce on the side. They were so sweet and crispy and totally satisfied for a second dinner.

At this point we  needed something to soak up all the beer in our tummies, before we made the drive home, snuck in the house and hoped to evade our sleeping parents.

Howard Johnson's menu

Yeah, that’s how I remember Ho Jo’s. Well, that and the ice cream! I missed HoJo’s when I went off to college though I did find a substitute though for those itty bitty fried clams. Thank you, Mrs. Pauls! 

Kankakee wasn’t exactly on the water unless you count the river, and no clams or seafood were coming from that river. Perhaps a catfish, but I wouldn’t have eaten it. There was many a fish fry in Kankakee County, but somehow I discovered shellfish. And who would have thought I’d have Howard Johnson’s to thank?

Time to post this recipe. My kids love it and have for many years. I bet yours will also. Yes I know, we still have to do goat cheese chile rellano peppers. I will get to them, I promise. But today, it is linguini. Mangia!

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Linguini with White Clam Sauce
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Linguini with White Clam Sauce

Linguini with White Clam Sauce

  • Author: Abbe Odenwalder
  • Prep Time: 15 Minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 Minutes
  • Total Time: 25 Minutes
  • Yield: 4 Servings
  • Category: Main Course
  • Method: Stove Top
  • Cuisine: Italian

Description

Linguini with white clam sauce, prepared the classic Italian way with  garlic and wine and a touch of cheese, is simple to make and tastes divine.


Ingredients

1 10 oz can baby clams
1 T chopped shallots or yellow onion
1/2 c olive oil
1 t chopped garlic
2 T chopped fresh Italian parsley
1/4 t dried hot pepper flakes
1/4 c dry white wine
1 T butter
2 T freshly grated parmesan cheese
Salt
1 lb good linguine cooked al dente ( Nothing ruins a pasta dish more than overcooked pasta. Use a timer and cook according to package directions. Always salt your water to give the pasta flavor. And never rinse. Ever. Just drain.)

Instructions

  • Put the shallots in a small pot with the oil and saute over medium high heat until translucent.
  • Add the garlic and saute until lightly colored. Add the parsley and dried hot pepper flakes, stir three or four times, then add the wine.
  • Boil until wine has reduced by about half. Estimate, please! Now if you want to stop here for a break you can. This will keep for a few hours if the kids are late from soccer practice.
  • Now strain the can of clams into a measuring cup, and save the clam juice. You should have about 2/3 of a cup. If there is more discard it. Add the juice to the sauce and boil until this is reduced by half.
  • Add the clams, turn them quickly in the hot sauce and turn off the heat. Add the butter and cheese and mix well. Taste and correct for salt. Usually this is good without extra salt.
  • Toss cooked pasta with sauce and serve immediately with extra cheese.

Notes

From Marcella Hazan

Keywords: linguini with clam sauce, linguini with clam sauce white, linguine with clam sauce, linguini with white clam sauce, linguini with white clam sauce recipe

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  • Guru Uru
    September 29, 2013 at 8:59 pm

    I feel like linguini with a raging passion now 😀
    Delicious!

    Cheers
    CCU

  • Guru Uru
    September 29, 2013 at 8:58 pm

    I feel like linguini with a raging passion now 😛

    Cheers
    CCU

  • Cathleen
    September 28, 2013 at 10:12 pm

    What a delicious looking pasta! You are making me so hungry, I love this!

  • Angie Schneider
    September 27, 2013 at 12:53 pm

    It has been at least 20 years since l last had clam sauce….now you have me crave for some!

    • Abbe Odenwalder
      September 28, 2013 at 2:12 am

      Definitely time, Angie. Satisfy the craving is what I say!

  • cquek
    September 27, 2013 at 3:56 am

    Now I know about Howard Johnson. Yes I love linguini with claim, yummy. Love your recipe.

  • Denise [email protected] Brazil To You
    September 27, 2013 at 1:52 am

    After seeing this linguini, I think I will have to prepare this dish for myself…

    • Abbe Odenwalder
      September 28, 2013 at 2:11 am

      Definitely, Denise. It is one of my faves!

  • Kitchen Riffs
    September 26, 2013 at 11:28 pm

    I remember Howard Johnson's! Loved their hot dog buns – their cross section was more square than round, which I thought was amazing when I was a kid. And I remember their fried clams, too. 😉 I sometimes make a canned white clam sauce too, and mine is almost identical to yours. I use more garlic and red pepper flakes, and omit the onion and butter. And almost never include the Parmesan. Yours looks good – I'll have to try it sometime. 😉

    • Abbe Odenwalder
      September 28, 2013 at 2:11 am

      Hot dog buns don't remember! Everything can always use more garlic and pepper in my opinion! Marcella says parmesan, which I know is weird for a seafood dish!