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Linguine with Clams and Zucchini (Linguine con Vongole e Zucchini) Recipe

Makes: 4 first-course or lunch servings

A popular and classic primo of the Amalfi Coast, this dish can be found on menus throughout the region in countless different versions. This recipe is an adaptation from Ristorante Lo Scoglio in Marina del Cantone. One of the waiters gave me the method after our epic lunch for la Signora’s birthday. Small world. I knew him from when I worked at Don Alfonso. He grew up with Alfonso. This camaraderie led to the secret in the recipe to be revealed—the seemingly overcooked zucchini in the method is interesting and makes for very flavorful oil in which to cook the clams.

INGREDIENTS
  • 4 large garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup pure olive oil
  • 4 medium zucchini (about 1 1/2 pounds), sliced into 1/8-inch-thick rounds
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 32 little neck clams (about 3 1/2 pounds), washed
  • 1/4 teaspoon hot red pepper (chili) flakes, plus extra for serving
  • 2 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley
  • 12 ounces linguine
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Lightly crush the garlic cloves and heat with both oils in a large nonreactive sauté pan over medium heat until they start to sizzle. Adjust the heat so the garlic continues to cook evenly in the oil, releasing its own essential oils, and softens but does not brown, about 2 minutes. Add the zucchini and carefully blend with the oil. Season with salt.
  2. Continue to cook slowly, stirring from time to time, until the squash is completely softened and starts to break apart but does not brown, about 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and let rest in the oil for 2 hours. Pour into a fine-mesh strainer, reserving the zucchini and oil separately. Keep the same pan, without cleaning, for cooking the clams.
  3. Heat the zucchini oil in the pan over medium heat until it starts to sizzle. Add the clams, cover the pan, and turn the heat to medium-high. Cook the clams, gently shaking the pan from time to time, until they start to open, 5 to 6 minutes. Cooking time will vary, depending on the size of the clams and the thickness of the shells. Add the reserved zucchini, hot pepper flakes, and parsley. Gently stir with the clams. Set aside.
  4. Boil the linguine in an abundant amount of salted water until done to taste. Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water before draining the linguine, adding a little of the pasta water so that the zucchini and pan liquid coat the pasta like a sauce.
  5. Transfer to a warm serving platter or individual pasta bowls. Start with the pasta, then top with the clams and zucchini. Serve subito—immediately—with extra hot pepper flakes on the side.

Wine Recommendation: Whites from Campania, a Falanghina from Castello Ducale or Lacrima Christi from Villa Carafa

© 2007 David Shalleck

This recipe, while from a trusted source, may not have been tested by the CHOW food team.