Spring is a great time to go down to the docks and pick up a couple of dozen clams. The smaller littleneck clams work very well in pasta dishes where they are tossed in and served whole, being steamed in the sauce. This method also works well with mussels. I find the smaller clams to be the sweeter ones
Here’s what you’ll need:
- 2 dozen littleneck clams
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 3 large garlic cloves, chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon dried hot red-pepper flakes
- 1 (28- to 32-ounce) can whole tomatoes in juice, coarsely chopped, reserving juice
- 1 teaspoons sugar
- 1 pound spaghetti
Heat oil in a 12- to 14-inch heavy skillet over medium heat until it shimmers, then cook garlic with red-pepper flakes, stirring, until pale golden, 1 to 2 minutes. Add tomatoes with their juice, sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon salt and briskly simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until thickened, 7 to 10 minutes.
Cook spaghetti in a pasta pot of boiling salted water until al dente.
Meanwhile, add whole clams to sauce and cook, covered, shaking skillet occasionally, until clams open wide, 6 to 10 minutes (discard any clams that remain unopened after 10 minutes). Transfer clams in shells to a large shallow bowl. If sauce is too watery, boil until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes.
Drain spaghetti. Return clams to sauce and add pasta, tossing