Spaghetti with Oven-Baked Clams

Oven Baked Clams

The weekend right before Valentine’s Day was very busy in our kitchen with what I’d like to call “woo food”.  “Woo food” involves a bit of splurging, a great wine pairing, and trying to recreate a restaurant-quality experience at home.  We decided to split the workload: I would cook on Saturday and DH would take over on Sunday.  I have to admit that I was so tired by the end of the weekend that for Valentine’s Day I got us the best Turkish takeout within a five mile radius.

I had been craving mussels for a while so when we went food shopping on Saturday, so I was disappointed when the only ones available in the store came in a kit with pre-made sauce.  So much for my vision of moules mariniére, with freshly baked bread… What we did see was a five pound bag of live New England wild-caught littleneck clams.  We have always enjoyed spaghetti with clams, and my go-to recipe from Tyler Florence is quick and super reliable, and mighty tasty.  It fits our definition of ‘woo food’ – we have made it before to celebrate birthdays and anniversaries.

The most difficult part of this recipe involves cleaning and inspecting the clams.  Clams must be thoroughly scrubbed, and any ones that are open must be discarded.  You can tell if they are still fresh/alive if when tapped against your countertop the shell closes.  Two of them actually did shut!  While prepping the clams, preheat the oven to 400F.

Littleneck_clams_usda96c1862

Littleneck clams – Image courtesy of WikiMedia Commons

Once the clams are cleaned, set a roasting pan in your cooking range, taking up two burners, and render the fat of four slices of bacon (chopped) in a couple of tablespoons of olive oil.  The original recipe calls for pancetta, but I liked the smokiness of the bacon in the dish.  Add red pepper flakes to taste and ten smashed garlic cloves and cook until fragrant, about three minutes.

Pancetta for Oven Baked Clams

Once the oven reaches the temperature, the add to the roasting pan about a pint of cherry tomatoes, sliced in half, or quartered vine tomatoes, the clams, 1/4 cup of white wine (the Chilean Sauvignon Blanc steps through again!), the juice of one large lemon, and a lot of black pepper. Do not add any extra salt at this point – between the bacon and the clam juice released there should be plenty.

Oven Baked Clams with Tomato and Pancetta

While the clams bake in the oven for 12-15 minutes, boil the strand pasta of your choice according to the package’s directions and prepare a pretty garnish of basil and parsley.  Keep in mind that the larger the clams, the longer they will take to steam until open.  Monitor the clams from outside the oven and once most of them are open, take out the dish.  Discard any clams that have not opened during the cooking process and toss the pasta in the sauce.  I served it in shallow bowls with plenty of clam juice.

Spaghetti with Oven Baked Clams

Should you have enough broth left over, save it.  It would make a great base for rice with squid, poaching liquid for white fish fillets… just as a warm dip for bread it should be great. The flavors really develop after a day or two.  If there are any leftover clams, remove them from the shells and store them in the leftover liquid.

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Author:Adriana

Adriana is a financial analyst by day, avid home cook in the evenings, and food blogger and runner in the strange hours between those two. When not in the kitchen concocting meals and stories to pass around, she is out looking for the next great bite (or the ingredients to make it at home), checking what's new at the market, or planning a trip around great food and wine.

7 Responses to “Spaghetti with Oven-Baked Clams”

  1. Anna
    February 16, 2011 at 4:40 pm #

    Hi Adriana, I totally love the “Woo food”concept I do that almost every weekend. I have no patience for the places here in LA. Stand in line for hours is not my idea of fun. And those places with reservation creeps me out a bit. Now clams are my favorite, it’s simple to make, doesn’t cost a fortune, and it’s guilt free, I never made them in the oven…. but will try next time for sure. Looks delicious.

  2. Cakewhiz
    February 17, 2011 at 5:17 am #

    Your pasta recipes continue to impress me! I am not a big mussels fan so i think i might add shrimps instead but even then, I am pretty sure it would taste yummy!

  3. Chris and Amy
    February 17, 2011 at 9:45 pm #

    We recently received a blogging award and wanted to pass it along to you!http://acoupleinthekitchen.blogspot.com/2011/02/stylish-bloggers-we-are.html

  4. Linda's Yummies
    February 19, 2011 at 2:49 am #

    Clams and pasta – my two favorites together. That looks really good. Makes me want to go out and buy some fresh clams! Thanks for sharing.

  5. February 10, 2014 at 12:34 pm #

    Wow! This looks fantastic! It reminds me of volgole, but tastier! Very nice!

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