Linguini with Clam Sauce is one of those wistful dishes I remember eating (and loving!) as a little kid when I’d go with my parents out to fancy restaurants. I hadn’t had this dish in ages, but after seeing a beautifully photographed recipe in a seafood cookbook the other day I was suddenly craving a nice big plate.
As I was writing my ingredients list to take to the grocery store, I was trying to think of how I might be able to give the classic Linguine with Clam Sauce recipe a healthful boost. I am not really sure how the idea to add chopped shitake mushrooms to the sauce came to me—and I wasn’t even totally convinced the idea was a good one—but I knew the amazing health benefits of shitake mushrooms and so I thought it was worth giving the idea a shot…
In fact, the shitake mushrooms made the Linguine with Clam sauce even better. The mushrooms added more substance to what you normally get from a clam sauce along with a very pleasing umami-like quality.
More About Shitake Mushrooms
I know it sounds a little “odd” to add shitake mushrooms to a clam sauce, but I’m telling you they taste amazing and they really do contribute substantial health benefits.
Mushrooms are like fine wines; different types have completely different qualities but in my opinion the meaty-texture and delicate taste of shitake mushrooms marries perfectly with the clam sauce. Just be sure to cut the Shitake mushrooms into small pieces using kitchen shears (see notes below.)
To learn more about the intrinsic healing properties of Shitake mushrooms click HERE.
Clean Cuisine Fast Food
And best of all, my Linguine with Clam Sauce is incredibly easy and super fast to make. You can have the whole dinner on the table in 20 minutes. To speed things along I use canned baby clams but if you have the time and inclination to complicate things you can certainly do so by using fresh clams (such as littlenecks or mahogany clams.)
If you are using fresh clams you’ll just add an extra 10 minutes or so to the total cooking time, which really isn’t all that bad. If I were going to have guests to dinner I’d use the fresh ones just because, why not? See the notes at the bottom of the page for how to substitute fresh clams.
Try Off-the-Vine-Fresh Boxed Pomi Tomatoes, a BPA-Free Alternative
to Canned Tomatoes
Pomi boxed tomatoes are made by Boschi, a certified producer of organic foods in Italy. A company that prides itself on the use of seeds in their farms that are not genetically altered, I discovered Pomi products one day by accident at Publix. I have since fell in love with their straight-off-the-vine taste and superior freshness.
Here’s just a few reasons why I like Pomi:
- Pomi is grown in Italy without pesticides, herbicides and without the use of genetically modified seeds.
- Unlike many other canned tomatoes, Pomi is packaged without preservatives, added water, citric acid or any additives. Pomi has just one ingredient: tomatoes
- Pomi contains no added salt
- Pomi is 100% all natural and comes in a box (Tetra Pak) which makes it BPA-free
Pomi is nationally distributed. You can find their tomato products at Whole Foods Market, Stop & Shop, Hannaford, Publix, Price Chopper, A&P and natural/ organic grocers or Italian specialty markets.
- Brown rice pasta (such as Annie Chun’s Pad Tai Brown Rice Noodles)
- 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 6 cloves minced garlic
- 4 large shallots, finely chopped
- Unrefined sea salt, to taste
- 2 packages (3.5 ounces each) shitake mushrooms, cut into bite-sized pieces using kitchen shears
- 2 cans (5 ounces each) baby clams, drained
- 2 boxes (24.6 ounces each) Pomi chopped tomatoes
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 4 teaspoons coconut palm sugar
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook according to package directions. Drain, rinse and set aside.
- Heat the oil in a large heavy saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and shallots; sauté 3-4 minutes, or until shallots are almost soft. Add the mushrooms and sauté until soft, about 2-3 minutes. Add the clams and cook for 1 minute. Add the chopped tomatoes, red pepper, coconut palm sugar and more salt to taste. Simmer sauce for 10-12 minutes. Remove sauce from heat and stir in the basil.
- Serve clam sauce over cooked noodles.
How to Substitute Fresh Clams
Use the smallest hardshell clams you can find (do not use steamers) and, before cooking discard clams with broken shells or shells that are not tightly closed. Be sure to wash the clams thoroughly—no trace of sand should remain on their shells. Any clams that do not open during the cooking process can be pried open with a dull knife at the table.
- 40 small clams (such as littleneck or mahogany clams, or cockles, scrubbed and washed well
- White wine or organic vegetable broth
- Juice from 1 whole lemon
- Handful of fresh parsley
- To cook the clams, place them in a deep sauté pan and fill the pan with half white wine or vegetable broth and half water so that the clams are almost completely covered. Add the lemon juice and parsley. Heat the pan over medium-high heat and cook the clams until they just open (you don’t want to over cook or even fully cook them here since they will be put back in the pan at the end.)
- Remove the clams from the pan and set aside to cool. When cool enough to handle, remove the clams from their shells and add to step 2 in the recipe above.