Linguine with Clam Sauce

linguine with clam sauce

Linguine with calm sauce is a classic Italian Christmas recipe. This one I got from my friend Mel. Mel is fantastic and feisty and beautiful and has written two best-selling cookbooks (WellFed and WellFed 2) and writes on her extremely popular blog, TheClothesMakeTheGirl, and she is half Italian and half Lebanese and therefore grew up eating some of the most divine foods on Earth. She’s basically one of the coolest people you’ll ever meet.

This linguine with clam sauce recipe came from her Italian mama, and was one of the staples at their Christmas Eve dinners. An antipasto salad and tiny fried fish were also regulars, along with the Sicilian Fried Dough Balls that Mel taught me — and you! — how to make.


Noni\’s Linguine with Clam Sauce

  • Author: Hilah Johnson
  • Cook Time: 20 mins
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 8 1x


  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 (14.5 ounce) cans whole baby clams
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley leaves, minced
  • 1 pound linguine
  • garnish: crushed red pepper flakes, grated parmesan cheese, black pepper


  1. Pour olive oil into a large skillet and heat over medium heat. Add the garlic and allow it to cook in the warm oil until fragrant and soft, about 7 minutes.
  2. Add the clams, along with their juice, and the white wine to the pan. Increase heat to medium-high so it bubbles a little, but doesn’t come to a rolling boil.
  3. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to boil and add the linguine. Cook until just tender, about 10 minutes.
  4. Add the parsley to the clams and stir to combine.
  5. Drain the pasta and place in a large bowl. Add the clams and toss with two wooden spoons to combine.
  6. Serve in pasta bowls and sprinkle with crushed red pepper flakes, parmesan cheese, and ground black pepper.

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Mel was also kind enough to share this recipe for fried sardines. They used to have fried smelt for Christmas at her house, but since smelt are hard to find and who even knows what to do with them if you did find them, you can use canned sardines to much the same effect! This recipe comes straight outta her most recent book, WellFed 2, which is one of my favorite cookbooks, by the way. It’s all paleo and most of the recipes work for the Whole30 plan, too, so if you’re familiar with that and have been thinking about giving it a try, either of Mel’s books are a great place to start.


Pan-Fried Sardines

  • Author: Hilah Johnson


  • 1 (3.75 ounce) can sardines, packed in olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 clove garlic, minced (about 1 teaspoon)
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves, minced (about 1 tablespoon)
  • 1 tablespoon arrowroot powder
  • pinch paprika
  • a few shakes of salt and ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil


  1. Dump the sardines and about half their oil into a small bowl. Add the lemon juice, garlic, and parsley, then cover and refrigerate 30-60 minutes.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix the arrowroot powder with paprika. Add a few shakes of salt and pepper and mix with a fork. Remove the sardines from the marinade and add the fish to the bowl with the spices. Gently roll the sardines in the spices until they’re coated.
  3. Heat a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat, about 3 minutes. Add coconut oil and allow it to melt. Fry the sardines about 2 minutes per side, until they’re crisp and heated through.

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And don’t forget your vegetables! An antipasto salad with peppers, olives, tomatoes, cucumber, lettuce, onions, really whatever the hell you want as long as you drizzle it with olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt, pepper and crumbled oregano is a great way to get them.

antipasto salad



  1. The Other Randy on December 19, 2013 at 11:48 pm

    I hate going to grocery stores so I love having recipes that can be made entirely from stuff I’ve got in my pantry (and/or freezer and refrigerator) on the spur of the moment. One look at the ingredient list for this and I immediately knew this would be going to become a regular recipe for me. Ironically, on one hand, for some reason I’ve always ignored pasta and clams recipes…while on the other, if you subtract the clams and white wine and substitute spaghetti for the linguine you’ve got spaghetti aglio e olio which is the very first recipe I ever added to my repetoire of “pantry only recipes”. In keeping with my deep-seated belief that one should ALWAYS respect the author of any recipe and follow it to the letter when making it the first time, I will use white wine the first time I make it. But since I really don’t care for any white wine except reisling, I’ll probably sustitute dry vermouth in subsequent makings (the most used Julia Child tip for me, ever). It’s a toss-up around here as to whether Martinis or chicken piccata sucks up the most dry vermouth.

    Also, this adds one more dish to the list of exceptions to the “rule” that seafood and cheese don’t go together. I’m thinking it’s not really a rule.

    And finally: another way to eat canned sardines!!!! Hilah, you’re like my own personal Santa!

    • Hilah on December 20, 2013 at 9:24 am

      Oh gosh, yes, this recipe is a pantry-staples-dream! I was thinking for people who aren’t fond of clams, that a very similar thing could be done with canned sardines or even canned tuna.
      The white wine (I used a pinot grigio) added a very necessary acidity and base flavor. But I bet vermouth would be great, too. And you know I think I read somewhere that the “no seafood with cheese” thing was actually made up in the US, and that seafood and cheese are served together in Italy. Seafood risotto would be another example.

  2. FoodJunkie on December 22, 2013 at 9:40 pm

    This looks amazing Hilah. I have only ever had red clam sauce so I will be trying this for a lighter version and this is so simple.
    It is almost smelt season here in New Brunswick, Canada. In the early winter they’re typically sold whole, flash frozen in 5 pound bags for cheap. They are typically from 3 to 8 inches in size. Some grocery stores have them already cleaned. Once you gut the fish and remove the head just dip in flour and pan fry. Some people eat them bones and all, at least the smaller ones but I prefer to lift out and discard the spine once they’re cooked. They are a mild, white fish and quite tasty when done up right. Now that you mentioned them I can’t wait for smelt season to start.

    • Hilah on December 23, 2013 at 11:48 am

      I’ve not heard of a red clam sauce, so I’ll look that up! You are right, though, this one is EXTREMELY simple.
      Thanks for the instructions on frying smelt!

      • FoodJunkie on December 23, 2013 at 5:41 pm

        The red clam sauce recipe I use comes from Chef John over at FoodWishes. Tasty but much heavier than Noni’s. Love your site and thanks for all the food ideas. Merry Christmas.

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