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Recipes for white clam sauce always read ‘delicious’.  You want to like a sauce that has all those good things in it.  Taste it alone, and you do.  Then mix it with the pasta and the flavours become shy.  But this version includes cayenne, coarse ground pepper and Worcestershire.  They don’t turn this dish into a spicy pasta– they make the flavours sing more brightly.

Spaghetti with white clam sauce (for 6)

(adapted from an Epicurious recipe)


  • 3 Tablespoons of olive oil
  • 3/4 cup of fresh parsley, chopped
  • 12 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 3 10-ounce cans of baby clams, drained
  • 1 and 1/2 cups of seafood stock, fish stock or clam juice
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream, and a little extra for finishing the pasta
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine, and a little extra for finishing the pasta
  • 1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1/4 plus 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 plus 1/8 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 18 ounces Spaghetti pasta
  • Garnish suggestion:  chopped parsley
  1. Cook the pasta according to the package directions.  Drain and toss with a little olive oil to prevent sticking.
  2. In a large Dutch oven heat the olive oil.  Add the parsley and garlic and saute, stirring, until the garlic begins to brown.  Add the stock, cream, wine, Worcestershire sauce, garlic salt, pepper, thyme and cayenne.  Simmer until the mixture is reduced to a thin sauce.
  3. Add the chopped clams and pasta and toss until it is well coated with the sauce.  Season with salt and pepper.
  4. The pasta may be mixed with the sauce in advance.  It will do the finished dish no harm.  In fact, it will give the pasta a chance to absorb the flavours of the sauce. When you are ready to serve it, splash a little more cream and white wine into the pot and toss it gently over a low heat until the sauce thickens again:
  5. Taste and adjust the seasonings however you like.
  6. Serving suggestion: Divide the pasta among six plates.  Dash some chopped parsley about over each, letting it scatter randomly around the edges as well…And offer grated Parmesan:

Sitting in the shade on a summer day, eating pasta with good olive oil, white wine and cream….

….makes people happy.

© Elizabeth Laeuchli, the diplomatickitchen, 2011