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Linguini with Clam Sauce – Basque-Style - A Family Feast

Linguini with Clam Sauce – Basque-Style

A few notes: The traditional salt used in this dish is a sea salt called Fleur de Sel, however Kosher salt will work as a substitute. This dish is quick to prepare so the linguini should be cooking at the same time that you prepare the sauce. The exact amount of clams and juice in a container differs from brand to brand. You will need to separate the juice from the clams as the juice gets used early in the sauce and the clams at the end. The additional bottle of clam juice is to get the sauce to the correct consistency.

Yield: 4 servings 1x
Prep: 30 minsCook: 15 minsTotal: 45 minutes


  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups ½ inch diced green bell pepper
  • 1 medium jalapeno, seeded, stemmed and diced, or serrano if you like it hotter
  • 1 cup ½ inch diced onion
  • 1 cup ½ diced leeks, white part only cleaned of all sand
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1/3 cup red wine, such as merlot
  • 3 cups diced plum tomatoes seeded, about 56 large tomatoes
  • 2 pounds (or 1 quart depending on how they are sold) chopped clams in their juice, clams and juice separated, see note above
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt or Kosher salt, see note above
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dry thyme
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • 4 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 8-ounce bottle clam juice, as needed
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley plus more for garnish
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan plus more for garnish
  • 1 pound dry linguini


  1. Start to heat a large pot of salted water on the stove. Have all sauce ingredients prepared in advance.
  2. Add the linguini to the salted boiling water and cook per package directions to slightly under-cooked.
  3. While linguini is cooking, in a large skillet over medium high, heat olive oil and add both peppers, onions and leeks and cook for three minutes. Add garlic and cook for one more minute.
  4. Turn to high and add wine. Cook to reduce the wine slightly, lower heat to medium high and add tomatoes, the juice from the chopped clams, salt, pepper, thyme, oregano, paprika and the tomato paste. Stir and simmer five minutes. If the consistency is too thick, add some or all of the bottle clam juice. The mixture should be very loose but not watery. The pasta will absorb some of the liquid on the next step.
  5. Add clams and heat just until the sauce is up to temperature then add in cooked drained linguini. (save a little pasta water in case you need to thin down further). Cook just enough so that the pasta is al dente but be careful not to overcook the clams.
  6. Remove from heat and stir in chopped parsley and Parmesan cheese and serve with additional parsley and cheese over each portion.

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