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Pasta with Clam Sauce

2012 May 22
by admin

I was talking to my husband over the phone the other day and telling him how I was on my way home from the grocery store.  He asked me what I’d purchased and I responded with “zucchini and clams.”  He laughed.

He didn’t think I was serious.

I walked into the grocery store, planning to get ingredients for lasagna and burritos, and walked out with a can of clams and some zucchini.


He looked at me like I had two heads when I pulled the can of clams out of my purse (who needs a grocery bag when your haul is so small?).  I reminded him that he’d be soon on his way out of town and that neither of these ingredients would enter his mouth.

About 2 years ago when I was living by myself (in transition when we were moving to the farm) I made this meal many times.  The original recipe calls for heavy cream or half and half but I don’t think I’ve ever used either one.  I’ve used evaporated skim milk, whole milk, 2 % milk, and skim milk with a dash of half and half at the end.  All variations are fantastic.  This dish is simple but tastes far more luxurious than you’d think based on the ease.  It is a meal that is sure to impress and is built off pantry staples.  Get thee to the store and grab some clams!

Pasta with Clam Sauce (adapted from Annie’s Eats)


12 oz. whole wheat pasta, such as thin spaghetti or linguini
1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
2 tbsp. unsalted butter
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
2 (6.5 oz) cans minced clams, drained and juices reserved
½ cup whole milk
Salt and pepper
Grated Parmesan, for serving


  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Cook pasta according to the package directions until al dente. Drain well.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet or saucepan, heat the olive oil and butter over medium-high heat until the butter is completely melted.
  3. Add the minced garlic to the pan and sauté until golden and fragrant, about 1 minute.
  4. Add the reserved clam juice to the pan, bring to a simmer, and reduce by about half, about 5 minutes.
  5. With the heat on medium-low, stir in the clams and the milk.
  6. Season the sauce to taste with salt and pepper (I find that I never need to add salt). Cook on low heat 2-3 minutes.
  7. Plate pasta onto serving plates and spoon sauce over top. Add parmesan cheese if desired.

Preparation time: 10 minute(s)

Cooking time: 15 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 4

  • Hezzi-D

    I love clams and used to make linguini and clams a few times a month but we got tired of it.  This looks so easy and delicious-I’ll have to put it on our menu soon!

  • IndianaAnna

    Oooo, I can’t wait to make this. 10+ years ago we lived near an Italian restaurant and my favorite thing to order was clams linguini. I haven’t had it since. Yum!

  • Cate

    I always throw stuff in my purse when it’s just a few things, too! The cashier is usually weirded out

  • Christine

    I throw in crushed red pepper for heat and some white wine instead of milk or cream and I used the chopped clams instead of minced. Definitely a staple at my house, with clams at only $1 a can, it’s an affordable go to meal. Sometimes I throw in some shrimp too :-)

  • Kate

    This is going to sound weird, but something about canned clams skeeves me out.  I think I have that problem with canned proteins in general.

  • Johanna Jorgensen

    Found your recipe, made it for dinner tonight with some mushrooms thrown in. Super delicious and a big hit!