Clams linguine

Clam shells must either be closed, or should shut tightly if tapped. A glass of cold, crisp white wine is the ideal complement

Ingredients (Serves 4)

  • 2kg/900g fresh clams, such as carpet shell or venus, cleaned
  • 7 tbsp olive oil, plus extra to sprinkle
  • 60g/21⁄4 oz dried white breadcrumbs
  • 2 shallots, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1⁄2 leek, trimmed, finely chopped and well rinsed
  • 1 carrot, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 celery stick, finely chopped
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme
  • 2 sprigs fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns, cracked
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
  • 75ml/3fl oz dry white wine
  • 275g/10oz dried linguine or fine spaghetti
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 tomatoes, skinned, deseeded and roughly chopped
  • Pinch of dried red chilli flakes 4 tbsp chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Set the cleaned clams aside. Heat 2 tbsp of the olive oil in a frying pan and fry the breadcrumbs until golden and crispy. Remove and set aside.

Heat 3 tbsp of the oil in a large pan (with a tight-fitting lid) and fry the vegetables, herbs, peppercorns and one third of the garlic until softened.

Pour in the wine, bring to the boil and tip in the clams. Cover with the lid and cook for 5 minutes or until the clams open, shaking the pan often.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta in a large pan of salted boiled water for about 9 minutes until al dente.

When the clams are ready, drain in a colander and set over a bowl to save the juices, discarding any clams that remain closed. Shell all but 24 of them and set aside. Strain the reserved juices through a muslin-lined sieve to remove any grit.

For the sauce, heat the remaining 2 tbsp olive oil in a large frying pan and gently cook the remaining garlic for 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes, chilli flakes and reserved clam cooking juices, increase the heat and cook to reduce by half.

When the pasta is ready, drain and sprinkle with olive oil. Add to the reduced sauce and toss over the heat. Stir in the parsley, breadcrumbs and shelled clams then season.

Serve in warmed bowls, arranging the clams in their shells around the edge.