This is a popular dish at my restaurant Felidia. Sometimes we substitute broccoli rabe for the regular broccoli, which is also delicious. You can chop the garlic if you like, but I prefer slices. They are mellower in flavor and become part of the texture of the dish. Unlike the light amount of sauce served with most pastas, when combining clam sauce and linguine, there should be a little extra broth. I love littleneck clams for this sauce, but other types of hard-shelled clams, such as Manila or butter clams, make a good substitute.
3/4 cup water
36 littleneck clams in shells, scrubbed (about 2 1/2 pounds)
6 quarts water
2 1/2 teaspoons salt, divided
3 cups broccoli florets
1 pound uncooked linguine
3 tablespoons extravirgin olive oil, divided
6 garlic cloves, sliced
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
How to Make It
Bring 3/4 cup water to a boil in a large stockpot. Add clams; cover and cook 4 minutes or until shells open. Remove clams from pan; reserve 1 cup cooking liquid. Discard any unopened shells. Cool clams. Remove meat from shells; chop. Discard shells.
Bring 6 quarts water and 2 teaspoons salt to a boil in stockpot. Add broccoli, and cook 2 minutes or until the broccoli is bright green. Remove broccoli with a slotted spoon (do not drain water from stockpot). Place broccoli in a colander, and rinse with cold water. Drain broccoli; coarsely chop.
Return water to a boil in stockpot. Stir in pasta; partially cover, and return to a boil, stirring frequently. Cook 6 minutes or until the pasta is al dente, stirring occasionally.
While pasta cooks, heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add garlic; cook 1 minute or until fragrant and beginning to turn golden, stirring constantly. Add broccoli and pepper; cook 2 minutes or until broccoli sizzles. Stir in clams and reserved 1 cup cooking liquid; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 2 minutes or until broccoli is tender.
Add pasta to skillet, stirring well to coat. Bring mixture to a boil. Stir in remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and chopped parsley; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Place about 1 cup pasta mixture in each of 6 bowls; drizzle each serving with 1/2 teaspoon oil. Serve immediately.
La Cucina di Lidia (Lidia's Italian Kitchen), Lidia's Italian-American Kitchen, Lidia's Family Table; Felidia, Becco, Esca, New York City; Lidia's Kansas City; Lidia's Pittsburgh
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