Recipe: Linguine with Clams

As a pescatarian, I'm constantly looking for different ways to get iron in my system.  I eat lots of fruits and vegetables that are high in iron, but did you know there are 2 different types?  There is heme(globin) iron and non-heme(globin) iron.  Heme iron, which is found in meat, fish/shellfish and poultry, is more easily absorbed than the non-heme iron, which is found primarily in fruits, vegetables, dried beans, nuts and grain products.  Hemoglobin is a protein carried by the red blood cells that contains iron. A low hemoglobin level may reduce your oxygen carrying capacity and make you feel tired and irritable. 

Of all the things I can eat in my diet, shellfish (especially clams) contain a fair amount of heme iron.  Makes sense why I'm always craving them...  Cooking clams was a new for me, but they turned out great!  See below for tips on how I cleaned the clams and got them to open up to expel some of their excess sand before steaming them.  This month I used linguine, but I would also recommend a more delicate pasta like angel hair spaghetti.

Ingredients (serves 4):

  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic chopped fine
  • 1/4 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 45-50 clams (recommended at least a dozen per person)
  • 1 tablespoon cornmeal
  • 1 pound linguine pasta

Steps:

  • Place the olive oil, garlic, basil and red-pepper flakes in a bowl and marinate together at room temperature.  Let sit for a minimum of an hour.

  • To clean the clams, rinse them and place in a large bowl with cold water and the cornmeal. The live clams open to ingest the corneal and release any remaining sand. Let soak 10 minutes. Scrub each clam clean under cold running water to remove remaining, softened mud from shell and return to soak in fresh cold water. Drain and chill until ready to cook.
  • Boil a large pot of water and cook the linguine to al dente.  I like to salt the water to bring it to a boil, and then add generous amounts of olive oil right before the pasta goes in to keep the linguine from sticking to each other.
  • In a large pot with a tight-fitting lid, bring 1/4 cup of water to a boil. Add the cleaned clams, cover immediately, and steam until the clams are open, 3 to 5 minutes. Discard any clams that do not open.
  • In a deep pan that has been warmed, pour the garlic/red pepper/basil olive oil.  After warming for about a minute, toss the steamed clams in the oil.
  • Pour the cooked clams and oil onto the cooked pasta and serve immediately.
Olive oil marinating in garlic, basil and crushed red pepper.  Splurge and use some fancy olive oil for this dish.

Olive oil marinating in garlic, basil and crushed red pepper.  Splurge and use some fancy olive oil for this dish.

Clammies ingesting cornmeal to expel sand

Clammies ingesting cornmeal to expel sand

Clams all opened up!

Clams all opened up!

Finished product with some fresh basil sprinkled on top for color.  Voila!

Finished product with some fresh basil sprinkled on top for color.  Voila!