Weeknight Spaghetti and ClamsA few weeks ago Mr. Mom’s Kitchen and I took off for a much-needed overnight away from the kids. We did some nutty stuff, like — slept, read, took a walk, took a run, ate, snuggled, watched a movie — all blissfully uninterrupted. On route to the getaway, we stopped in Sausalito, just North of San Francisco, for an al fresco lunch at Fish, a restaurant known for its skillfully prepared sustainable seafood. I picked up a pound of clams on our way out for our dinner that night.

Tinkering in the kitchen without the swirl of kids felt downright decadent. Eating dinner for two at nine p.m. seemed like we were really going off the rails. I sauteed up those pretty little clams, still in their shells, in garlic, wine and a scattering of parsley, and served them over linguine. It was tasty and satisfying, but strangely, didn’t seem to measure up to the old-school version I grew up on using canned clams.

Spaghetti and clams was a dinner staple in my house. No doubt, it was the first pasta I ever ate. Nobody did it better than my grandfather, Bapa, who was never shy with the butter or garlic. I was curious if the canned clam recipe could really be as good as I remembered it, indeed, superior to one made with fresh clams. So last week I cooked up spaghetti with clams for family dinner.

It didn’t disappoint. And with only five ingredients and minimal prep, it can be knocked out in the time it takes to cook the pasta. The dish also measures up in terms of sustainability and nutrition. Clams rank in the “best choice” and “good alternatives” category according to Seafood Watch They are high in protein, iron and zinc, off the charts in selenium, and low in fat. I’m less generous with the butter and oil than Bapa, using enough to add richness and to coax the flavor from the garlic and relying on a splash of clam juice to coat the pasta Cooking the pasta al dente is key, both for taste and nutrition, something you can read about here.

My crew gobbled down Old-School Spaghetti and Clams with great enthusiasm. I, of course, lapped up every briny, garlicky, savory bite. Mr. Mom’s Kitchen missed out completely; he was on the road for work. Perhaps I’ll save it up to make on our next overnight getaway.


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  1. Firouzeh Foroutan
    12.21.2011 at 4:23 PM #

    Katie, I made this last night, and it was delicious!! There was literally not even one single noodle left!

    Thank you!!


    • katiemorford
      12.21.2011 at 7:54 PM #

      Ohhh…good to hear. Glad it went over well.

  2. 01.09.2012 at 9:16 PM #

    I’ve made this three times ever since you’ve put up the post. Mmmm, so satisfying! Thanks!

    • katiemorford
      01.09.2012 at 10:05 PM #

      Awww…thatmade my day!

  3. Meggin
    01.18.2012 at 3:42 PM #

    Do you think whole wheat pasta would work?

    • katiemorford
      01.19.2012 at 10:07 AM #

      Yes…I think whole grain pasta would do well here.

  4. Jen
    10.06.2014 at 8:24 AM #

    Can you recommend a good brand and variety of canned clams. I’m not sure where to start! Thank you! :) I agree–I tried fresh clams for this recipe last night, and it’s just not the same as with meaty, canned clams. I want to find a good tender variety. Commercial buyers can find them, so I know they exist!

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