Garlicky White Wine Spaghetti with Mussels and Clams

published Jul 19, 2021
summer
Garlicky White Wine Spaghetti with Mussels and Clams

This dish boasts garlicky, buttery spaghetti and easy-to-cook clams and mussels, and though it looks and tastes luxurious, absolutely anyone can pull it off.

Serves4 to 6

Prep25 minutes

Cook30 minutes

Jump to Recipe
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Spaghetti with mussels and clams served in bowl.
Credit: Photo: Ghazalle Badiozamani / Food Stylist: Jesse Szewczyk

I identify as a Certified Shellfish Enthusiast, and I do not take this title lightly. My biggest fear in life is that I will fall in love with someone with a shellfish allergy. What would we do together? Eat … fish? I wouldn’t be able to make them lobster risotto, seared scallops, or crab cakes ever? Is that even love? I’m honestly not sure we’d be able to make it work.

Irrational anxieties aside, cooking shellfish at home can understandably feel intimidating — which is why I’ve created the perfect recipe to start with. This dish boasts garlicky, buttery spaghetti and easy-to-cook clams and mussels, and though it looks and tastes luxurious, absolutely anyone can pull it off. Here’s everything you need to know.

Credit: Photo: Ghazalle Badiozamani / Food Stylist: Jesse Szewczyk

Buying and Storing Mussels and Clams

When buying mussels and clams, look for ones with tightly closed shells. They should smell fresh and briny, like the ocean. If you’re trying to cut costs, double up on the mussels and skip the clams, as clams are typically more expensive.

Ask your fishmonger to pack the shellfish on ice, then transfer them to a breathable (not airtight) container when you get home. I recommend a large bowl covered with a damp dishtowel or paper towel, then storing it in the fridge until you’re ready to cook.

How Do You Cook Mussels and Clams?

First, you’ll have to clean the shellfish. Let the mussels and clams soak for at least 10 minutes in cold, salted water, which helps draw out the sand. Scrub them gently, and debeard the mussels.

To cook the shellfish, you’ll steam them in a garlicky white wine sauce. After lidding the pot, it should only take about five or seven minutes for the shells to open. Don’t worry too much about overcooking these guys — once you see that they’re starting to open, you can start transferring them to a large bowl. If any of the clams or mussels don’t open after most of the others, it’s best to throw them away.

What White Wine Is Good for Seafood Pasta?

When it comes to cooking seafood, I like to use a crisp, dry, acidic, and slightly fruity white wine, such as Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc (don’t sleep on Costco’s Kirkland Signature Savvy B!).

Serving Your Seafood Pasta

After dividing the clams and mussels evenly between bowls, garnish each serving with red pepper flakes and pass around some lemon wedges. A simple side salad and some garlic bread would round out the meal perfectly, as would a glass of dry white wine (you have a bottle open from the pasta sauce, after all).

Garlicky White Wine Spaghetti with Mussels and Clams

This dish boasts garlicky, buttery spaghetti and easy-to-cook clams and mussels, and though it looks and tastes luxurious, absolutely anyone can pull it off.

Prep time 25 minutes

Cook time 30 minutes

Serves 4 to 6

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pounds

    littleneck clams

  • 1 pound

    mussels

  • 1

    large shallot

  • 4 large cloves

    garlic

  • 2

    medium lemons

  • 1/4 cup

    fresh parsley leaves

  • 1 pound

    dried spaghetti, fettuccine, or linguine pasta

  • 3 tablespoons

    olive oil

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    red pepper flakes, plus more for garnish

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    kosher salt, plus more for soaking and cooking the pasta

  • 3/4 cup

    dry white wine

  • 3 tablespoons

    unsalted butter

  • Freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. Place 1 1/2 pounds clams and 1 pound mussels in a large bowl of cold, lightly salted water and let soak for 10 minutes. Drain well. Scrub the shells gently and debeard the mussels if needed (here’s a tutorial).

  2. Bring a large, heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven of heavily salted water to a boil. Meanwhile, Thinly slice 1 large shallot (about 1/2 cup). Mince 4 large garlic cloves (about 1 tablespoon). Finely grate the zest from 1 medium lemon, then juice the lemon (3 to 4 tablespoons). Cut the second lemon into wedges for serving. Finely chop 1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves.

  3. When the water is boiling, add 1 pound dried pasta and cook until 2 minutes less than al dente, about 8 minutes or according to the package instructions. Reserve 1 cup pasta cooking water. Drain the pasta.

  4. Dry the same pot, then add 3 tablespoons olive oil and heat over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the shallots and cook until softened, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the garlic, 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, and 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add 3/4 cup dry white wine and bring to a boil.

  5. Add the mussels and clams. Cover and cook, shaking the pan occasionally, until the clams and mussels open, 5 to 7 minutes. As the mussels and clams open, use tongs to transfer them into a large bowl. Discard any that do not open. Vigorously simmer until the liquid in the pot is reduced by half, about 3 minutes. Meanwhile, cut 3 tablespoons unsalted butter into 3 pieces.

  6. Add the pasta, butter, and 1/4 cup of the pasta cooking water to the pot. Toss until the pasta is al dente, adding more pasta water a tablespoon at a time (you may not need it all), until the sauce is thickened and coats the pasta, about 2 minutes. Add the reserved lemon zest, lemon juice, parsley, and a few grinds of black pepper, and gently toss until combined. Taste and season with more kosher salt and black pepper as needed.

  7. Remove from the heat. Add the mussels and clams and any accumulated juices and toss to combine. Transfer to bowls, dividing the mussels and clams evenly among each. Garnish with more red pepper flakes if desired and serve with the reserved lemon wedges.