California Central Coast Recipes

Fresh Clams in Red Sauce with Linguine

This is a really nice recipe, done simply with fresh tomatoes, basil and clams. It has a wonderful full-bodied flavor. It is the "red" complement to the equally delicious Fresh Clams in White Wine Sauce with Linguine .

This recipe is a real show-off of your cooking skills though it's not much harder than throwing together a simple tomato-based pasta sauce. It’s easy to put together and makes a gorgeous presentation and taste that will earn you many kudos. ©2018, Fresh Clams in Red Sauce with Linguine
Preparation time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes
re-calculate ingredients for:


4 dozen hard-shelled small clams or cockles
4 Tablespoons Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
1 cup onion , chopped
1/4 teaspoons hot pepper flakes
1 cup dry white wine
4 cups fresh in-season tomatoes , seeded and coarsely chopped
1/2 cup fresh basil , chopped
2 to 4 Tablespoons tomato paste
salt and pepper to taste


1 pound linguine

Preparation Directions.

1 Scrub the clams well under cold running water. Discard any open clams. Put the clams aside.

2 In a large stockpot, heat the olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the onion and red pepper flakes and cook until just softened and the onion begins to turn light golden.

3 Add the clams to the pan, cover tightly and increase the heat to high. Cook on high heat and shake pan often until clams open - usually within three to five minutes.

4 Then add the white wine to de-glaze the pan. Remove the clams, discard any unopened clams*, then cover to keep warm and put aside until later.

5 Add the tomatoes and the fresh basil and increase the heat to medium-high. Cook until the wine and tomatoes are reduced by one third. If your sauce is too thin, add the tomato paste using your discretion on how much is needed. If your sauce mixture gets too dry, add a little more wine. Lower the heat to medium-low.

6 Correct the seasoning. Add the clams and all their juices back to the tomato mixture. Stir well and simmer just a few minutes to heat through.

7 Remove the pan from the heat and put the pan aside until ready to serve.

8 Meanwhile, cook linguine in a large stockpot or pasta pot of boiling salted water. When pasta is al dente, drain the pasta, then add the pasta to the pan with the tomato sauce and toss the pasta until well coated with the clam sauce.

9 Divide the pasta between individual dinner plates. Arrange the clams attractively around each plate and serve.

10 If you like, sprinkle a little additional basil on top of each plate’s pasta for presentation.

Wine and Food Pairing and Serving Suggestions.

*The traditional rule is to "discard any clams which do not open." However, sometimes with small clams the closed clams are OK. You can use a knife to open the clam. Usually if the clam is OK, the shell will spring open with a "little" probing. If not, or in doubt, discard the clam.

Wine suggestion: With this dish, since it has a slight “kick”, I recommend a good Mediterranean style red like a Syrah.

A tip from Sue!

Stoves and Ovens

If you’re fortunate enough to be able to choose your major appliances, I recommend a gas stove-top and an electric oven.

A gas stove-top is much more versatile than an electric one because it has infinite heat options.

An electric oven is better than gas because it has more even temperatures for baking and heating.