TRR photo by Laurie Stuart
Husband Stephen and I eat most of our meals out of hand-built bowls by the late Cecily Fortesque. They are such a wonderful shape and feel—which adds comfort to the meal.

Linguine with white clam sauce

One of the challenges of our hectic lives is preparation of family meals that are quick and relatively inexpensive. With that in mind, pasta with white clam sauce is one of my go-to recipes.

I use canned clams, because they are easy and they are a consistent product.

Using canned clams, either a 10-oz. can of baby clams or two 6-oz. cans of minced clams, the sauce goes together quickly by sautéing onions and garlic in butter or olive oil, adding the clams, complete with the broth and a little bit of white wine and chopped parsley. The whole sauce goes together in about 15 minutes. So, if you start to boil your water when you start to chop the onions and mince the garlic, your meal is ready in under 30 minutes.

I find meal preparation relaxing. It is a time in my day when I feel there is nothing else that is more important for me to be doing then cooking a meal that will nourish my family. It’s a creative endeavor. I like to imagine what the ingredients will taste like, and I like experimenting with using things that I have in my refrigerator.

For instance, with this white clam sauce, it would be easy to chop up some broccoli and add it as you sauté the onions and garlic. You could also easily add a bit of chopped spinach. I wonder how the sauce might be if you added a bit of chopped fennel? If you want a bit of brightness and zip, add a little lemon juice and half a teaspoon of grated lemon zest.

In my book, cooking is an opportunity to be creative. One word of advice: I often do just a bit of research on the web, if I’m unsure of the basic components of a particular dish that I want to make. Then I can adjust a basic recipe to the ingredients that I have on hand.

Linguine with white clam sauce

Serves 3-4 people depending on whether you’re pairing your meal with bread and/or salad.

1 large onion, diced         $0.50 (on sale 3 2-lb bags for $4 at Peck’s and Pete’s)

4 cloves of garlic, minced              $0.53

2 6.5-oz. cans of minced clams with juice ($3.33, on sale 3/$5 at Peck’s and Pete’s), or one 10-oz. can of baby clams with juice ($2.29)

3 Tbsp. butter or olive oil              $0.38

2 Tbsp. chopped fresh parley, or 1 teas. dried parsley, $0.13

½ cup white wine or broth (Broth is a staple in my frig, as I routinely save vegetable scraps and boil in water for about 30 minutes. The broth keeps well in the fridge for several weeks.) $0.25 Swanson’s, on sale at Peck’s and Pete’s

1 lb. linguine or pasta of your choice.      $1.19

TOTAL for 3: $4.74-$5.78              

Per serving: $1.58-$1.92 (depending on whole or minced clams)

Place oil in heavy-bottomed saucepan (I use a 10-inch cast iron skillet.) Heat oil until shimmery and add onions and garlic. Sauté over medium heat for about 6 minutes or so until tender and translucent. (I heard recently from Christopher Kimball, formerly from Cooks Illustrated now from Milk Street Magazine, report that if you add your minced garlic to cold oil, and then heat, the garlic flavor will be milder. I have not tried that yet.) Add clams in their juice, the wine or broth and parsley. Cover, turn heat down and simmer for 10-12 minutes.

Cook your pasta as directed on the package; reserve ½ cup of the water in case the sauce needs more liquid.

Put pasta in bowls and ladle sauce on top.


Add a 10-oz. package of frozen spinach when you add clams and juice.

Add 1 Tablespoon lemon juice and ½ teas. lemon zest.

Add ½ teaspoon dried pepper flakes.

Add 1 to 2 cups cooked chopped broccoli when you add the clams and juice.

As you can see, you can add and subtract any number of ingredients to this easy and fast white clam sauce. I’d love to hear about ways that you made this your own and how you are making food memories with your family. Join the conversation at


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