Linguine alle Vongole
This is my go to Sunday lunch because it's gorgeous and easy but also because it's pasta + shellfish, combining two of my favorite things. I can make this without a recipe in the time it takes to boil water and pasta because I've made it that many times. And you will too because it's the perfect weekend treat. I even grow parsley in my New York apartment so that I can whip this up at anytime. And for those days when you need to cook out of the pantry, you can easily make this with canned chopped clams as well.
Start off by purging your manila clams in salt water (instructions here) and boiling a pot of water for the pasta. I use Barilla's linguine fine because it cooks fast and the flat shape picks up the sauce well. Also full disclosure, the ingredients pictured above are for 1 serving but I wrote the recipe for 2 so don't get confused when your mise looks slightly different.
While the pot of pasta water is coming up to a boil and the pan is heating up on medium heat, get all of the chopping and measuring out of the way. Chiffonade or mince the parsley, mince the garlic and slice the lemon in half. Measure out the white wine or sake and the butter.
Once the pan is hot, pour about 1-2 tbsp of olive oil with the garlic and crushed red pepper. Let it sizzle for a few seconds until aromatic and then pour in the white wine. Swirl the manila clams before draining and rinsing so that the clams pop out of the shell easily (allegedly the swirling makes them dizzy and loosens up the muscles). Place the manila clams carefully onto the pan in one layer and squeeze some lemon juice into the pan. Put a lid on to let the clams steam. Shake the pan a little to help the clams open a bit and start checking after 3 minutes to see if they've all opened up.
At this point your pasta water should be at a rolling boil. Salt the water heavily and cook your pasta. Make sure to set the timer for 1-2 minutes less than the shortest time on the box so you don't overcook it. Do not be lazy here, make sure to stir the pasta a few times to make sure there's no clumping.
Once all the clams are open, remove them from the heat using tongs or chopsticks. You do not want to overcook these babies. Clams, like pasta, are gross when overcooked.
Turn up the heat to medium high so the sauce is simmering. Mount with butter to take the edge off the acid and help the flavors all come together. Toss in the parsley (save a little for garnish) and the sauce is done. By this point, the pasta should be cooked as well so drain that (save a little pasta water) and toss into the sauce. Add a splash of pasta water, toss a bit more and you're ready to plate and eat!