By keeping a few simple canned ingredients in your pantry, you can have this quick, lively pasta in under a half an hour. Recipe below.
Last week when I used canned anchovies for my Provençal layered pot roast, I hoped Marion would use the leftover anchovies for this perennial favorite at our house. She did. I’ll let her tell you about it.
We originally came across this recipe in Men’s Health magazine, where it was published in an anonymously written column aiming to provide men with simple, nutritious, inexpensive recipes. This was a couple of years before its author, James Beard Award winner David Joachim, published A Man, a Can, a Plan: 50 Great Guy Meals Even You Can Make. I can’t say enough about the usefulness of this little book. It is sensible, clear and direct. It makes a dead run at the young guy who wants to cook and to fix healthy, quick meals without making a big fuss over the whole thing. It has a board book cover and is shaped like a can, with a sensible lay-flat design. What keeps it from seeming childish and gimmicky is its out-and-out practicality. The book cooperatively lays flat when open. You won’t put it on your coffee table, but you will leave it on your counter. The recipes are practical, direct, modest, and fast—it’s pretty much the diametric opposite of, oh, Alinea or El Bulli 2003-2004.
We like our version of Linguine with Red Clam Sauce so much that it is part of our regular rotation—a fast, tasty weeknight dinner or a quick weekend lunch. And by quick, we mean quick. From start to finish is about 20 minutes, tops.
As with last week’s pot roast dish, the anchovies in here vanish, leaving a flavor that is mysterious and subtle. If you really loathe anchovies, omit them, but the final dish just won’t be as good.
Linguine with Red Clam Sauce
1 10-ounce can of Rotel brand tomatoes with green chiles [see Kitchen Notes]
1 can minced clams
1/2 can anchovy filets or more, minced fine [see Kitchen Notes]
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon dried tarragon [see Kitchen Notes]
1/3 cup dry white vermouth [see Kitchen Notes]
8 ounces linguine, or the linear pasta you prefer
Freshly grated Parmesan
First, start a pot of water to cook the pasta. When it begins to boil, add the dried pasta, stir, reduce the water to a simmer, and then start cooking the sauce.
In a skillet, sauté garlic for a minute in the olive oil over moderate heat. Pour in the tomatoes straight from the can, juices and all. Simmer for 2 or 3 minutes.
Add the dried tarragon and vermouth and cook for another minute. Then pour in the canned clam juice—not the clams! Simmer for a couple more minutes.
Test the cooking pasta. If the pasta is not yet ready, then turn the heat very low under the sauce. The sauce should not reduce down so that most of the liquid is gone. You want it to be a bit liquidy.
When the pasta is cooked, drain it, rinse quickly in hot water, and return to the pot and put the pot on the stove over very low heat. Pour the sauce all over it. Toss, then add the canned clams and the minced anchovies. Toss again. No salt needed—you’re using anchovies, which are quite the little sodium bombs.
Plate, grate a generous serving of Parmesan over everything, and serve.
Rotel—a versatile bit of spice. We always keep a couple of cans of these slightly spicy tomatoes in our pantry. My first encounter with Rotel was many years ago, in Houston, where the only dish every college kid seemed to know how to make was Rotel Dip—a block of Velveeta melted in a nonstick saucepan with a can of Rotel, then served with tortilla chips or Fritos. It sounds horrible, and I can feel my arteries crispy crackling as I write about it, and now I want some.
If you don’t have a 10-ounce can of Rotel, you can use a 15-ounce can of any brand of tomatoes with jalapenos. If you dislike chiles, you can also use regular stewed tomatoes, diced tomatoes, whatever your liking is in the canned tomato department. But this recipe is really nice with the light zip of green chiles.
Don’t fear the anchovies. Last week, Terry made Layered Pot Roast with Anchovies, Capers and Garlic, which included a few anchovies; I used up the remaining anchovies in this recipe, this time a little more than half a can. As with the pot roast, the finished result here is not all anchovyish. It’s very subtle and nice. The anchovies really do vanish. Even if you are not an anchovy lover, try this recipe as written. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
Tarragon. The original recipe called for basil, to be added at the point when you add the clams and anchovies. I usually let the tarragon stand for itself in this dish. If you have some fresh basil, chop it up and add it at the end.
Parmesan cheese? With seafood? I know that traditional Italian cookery frowns on cheese in seafood pastas. But we are not in Italy, and we love the flavor of cheese with seafoods—if we couldn’t mix them, there would be no smoked haddock in sauce mornay ( ; there would be fewer of the crazy wonders of American regional cuisine, like crab rangoon. Grate away.