Use Canned Clams For An Easier Take On Your Next Plate Of Linguine

Most of us love the idea of making fresh meals from scratch with the best possible ingredients, but the reality is that a lot of the time a canned option is just going to work better. Pasta alle vongole, aka pasta and clams, is a dish that just screams Italy, and normally that means a direct reliance on the freshness and quality of its simple ingredients. A plate of pasta coated in a creamy, briney sauce and studded with meaty, shell-on clams looks and tastes like the stuff of Mediterranean seaside dreams, so how could you possibly compromise on that? Well, we are not going to tell you that canned clams are going to make a better dish of pasta, but what we will tell you is that canned clams will still taste great, cost way less, and be done in minutes instead of hours. That's a pretty good compromise.

Using fresh clams requires quite a lot of preparation, and just doesn't pay off that much in improved flavor. Shell-on clams tend to be full of sand and need to be thoroughly cleaned to purge them of all grit. Think how tough it is to get every last bit of sand off yourself after a day at the beach, and then realize you are doing that for dozens of clams. Canned clams require nothing but opening and dropping in a pan, and you still get plenty of that salty, rich flavor.

Canned clams are a quick, affordable way to add seafood to pasta

While canned clams alone have enough flavor to carry a plate of pasta, there are a few things you can do to maximize their impact. No matter what kind of dish you are making, lemon juice and red pepper flakes pair wonderfully with clams, adding a punchy kick of acidity that can balance out the sometimes overly salty and fatty flavor of clams. Making clam sauce is also a place where the magic of pasta water becomes very handy. The clam juice that comes with canned clams is just as valuable as the clams themselves but needs to be thickened to properly coat some slippery linguine. Finishing off your pasta by cooking it directly in the clam sauce with a few splashes of starchy pasta water will thicken the juice, and help emulsify it with other ingredients you might be cooking the clams in, like olive oil.

You also don't need to stick to the classic white clam sauce with canned clams. They can easily upgrade a simple tomato sauce that's feeling flat by turning it into red clam sauce. Are anchovies too intense for you? Or do you just want to mix up your pasta puttanesca? Canned clams can add a milder version of that same umami brine while also bringing a meatier texture. So grab a can of clams, and make your next pasta night better in the easiest possible way.