June: Linguine Alle Vongole

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Linguine with White Clam Sauce

Clam-Sauce with script

Sounds like a big deal – linguine, clams, vongole. Hmmm… not so much. The only big deal here is the wonderful dish that awaits. LINGUINE ALLE VONGOLE or Linguine with White Clam Sauce is easy, light, and perfect to start the summer menu for outdoor dining. Yes – outdoors – On the Patio – is right where I would go with this one. This dish was just made for an outdoor spread. You are not going to believe how easy it is to create one of the most famous of Italian seafood dishes. I just saw some beautiful Littleneck Clams the other day and thought, “It’s time!”  It is time to share this fabulous dish with you.

Linguine Alle Vongole was pretty ordinary around our house growing up  in Binghamton, NY, because it was a favorite of my father, Attilio, a fisherman at heart, who loved to take to the sea in the summer with his family in tow.  As a girl, we spent many summers on Cape Cod with various wonderful cousins of my mother, Loretta. We all inhabited cottages next to each other. It was the Italian version of the Kennedy compound—without the trust funds!  During the day, when the time was right, the kids would head, with their buckets, to the areas where the clams would be found and commenced to digging up as many as they could carry home to my Dad. He would then prepare two extraordinary sauces with these clams – one red – one white. The aunts prepared homemade pasta while we were all at the beach. Later at dinner time, everyone emerged from the family cottages to  grab a dish and line up  for Attilio’s “red” or “white”  sauce – both delicious and fresh. Such a memory – I can almost taste the pasta, fresh clams, and the the salt air that accompanied.

Today we’ll tackle the simple and fresh preparation of the “white” in Linguine Alle Vongole. Just relax and let the clams do the heavy lifting. They will release flavor from their broth that you will not believe!


Clam-Sauce with script 2

Serves: 4

Prep: 5 minutes

Cook: 10 minutes


1 lb. Linguine Pasta (thin, flat pasta)

1/4 c. Olive Oil

4 Cloves Fresh Garlic- chopped finely

1 c. White wine

1/2 tsp Red Pepper Flakes

Littleneck or other small clams (Manilas, cockles etc.) scrubbed a little to clean them. I like 3 1/2 lb for 4 people. Don’t be stingy with the clams. After all, they are the main focus here.

3 Tbsp. Butter

Salt and Pepper to taste.

1/2 c.  Italian Flat Leaf Parsley

1 Lemon for garnish

Extra Virgin Olive Oil  for drizzle


Put oil in pan with chopped garlic

Cook a couple of minutes over med. high heat just to let garlic permeate the oil. Sit and do not brown or burn the garlic

Add the wine and red pepper flakes – Cook a couple of minutes.

Then add the clams turning the heat to high. Cover the pan immediately and cook until the clams open – about 8 minutes. They will release a delicious broth which will flavor your sauce.

If larger clams are used –leave cover on a couple more minutes.

When ready – remove any unopened clams and discard them as they may be dead. Use only the clams which have opened.

TASTE and add salt and pepper as needed

At this point add 3 tbsp. butter. Let the butter melt and stir in.

Add the sauce to the drained pasta and toss. Taste again for seasoning.

Sprinkle parsley over the top.

Slice the lemon very thin into rounds and then cut the rounds in half  – like 1/2 moons and throw around on top of pasta – as many as you like.

Drizzle liberally with Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

Stick a fork in it – it’s DONE!

To Serve: Have some crusty Italian bread on hand with this dish. You’ll need it. It has great “dunkability”!  My father, Attilio, would surely have a small supply of red pepper flakes on the side to add to his dish – delicious – but not for the faint of heart.

Vino: As with most seafood , I recommend a Falanghina with the Linguine Alle Vongole , but a Pinot Grigio would  be lovely as well.


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Food Photos By Tommy Hanks Photography

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Sovana & the Mystery Dish

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Buon giorno!

How Antipasto di Melanzane e Peperoni came to My Italian Dish:

   Not long ago, Chick, a cycling friend of my husband Tom, asked if I knew about an extraordinary Eggplant and Peppers dish that he had experienced in Sovana, Italy. Chick, an avid cyclist, is naturally concerned about eating healthy foods that at the same time give him the energy to pedal on and pedal fast! This is one of those dishes. Chick mentioned that he and his group enjoyed this so much while visiting Sovana, that they asked the servers at the restaurant to please continue to bring more of it to the table. See the photo of Chick enjoying a splendid moment dining in Italy during a break from riding.


This “mysterious” dish had been in his mind every since. When he asked me about it, I was immediately intrigued as I knew little of Sovana. However, the dish he described was somewhat familiar in ingredients. Fortunately, he also provided a clear photo of the half eaten platter which offered a good view of the basics. I decided to accept the challenge, and I will be ever-grateful to Chick for bringing it to my attention. Besides, this kind of stuff just “makes my merry go round” or whatever!

To get a feel for the region and cuisine of the area, I first researched Sovana as I knew little about it. Sovana is a very small village in the province of Grosseto in the heart of Tuscany and near the Lazio region. It is not usually considered to be on the “beaten path” of most tourists, as it is tiny and rural with the open Tuscan terrain so classic and frequently photographed and painted . However, there is much history there. The village dates back to Etruscan times and is known for its tombs and the frescoes of the Church of Santa Maria Maggiore. It is also said to be the birthplace of Pope Gregory VII.

After much research and pondering, I took to the kitchen with my newly starched Linda’s Italian Table apron to attempt re-creation of this splendid dish that I call Antipasto di Melanzane e Peperoni. Chick described the flavors and ingredients to me which really helped. Let’s see…a saute of eggplant, peppers, mushrooms, olive oil, maybe parsley. It reminded me of two dishes my parents, Loretta and Attilio, used to make. One was a simple dish of peppers and oil served in antipasti – usually cold or room temperature. The other which my father more often made called for the addition of sausage  – the very classic Sausage and Peppers – served hot with crusty bread. While I wanted to remain true to the dish Chick described , I landed somewhere in between the dishes that were familiar to me as well.

The resulting recipe provided for Tom and me one of those perfect late afternoon fall lunches On the Patio that Tuscany has made famous – sunshine, crisp air, a balmy breeze, good wine, and simple yet memorable food. The added benefit here is that this dish is nutritious and vegetarian. There is very little fat in this dish, and the fat used is olive oil which provides its own benefits. On that lovely afternoon, it offered the perfect light course. The planets were aligned indeed!

I decided that this could be a perfect antipasto or even a side dish to meat – to be served hot, warm, or room temperature. It also occurred to me that the dish would be more flavorful if the vegetables were roasted first – HEALTHY – and would provide an opportunity for a fun and easy tutorial for roasting your own peppers.  By roasting the peppers first, you bring a slightly smoky flavor to the dish which will give it an added level of flavor. You can also roast them ahead if you wish. The roasted peppers will also be more tender because you remove the skins. Roast your own peppers, and it is not likely you’ll want to buy the jarred ones too often again! It is EASY and just takes a few minutes. There are several ways to roast the peppers from using a blow torch to holding them over an open flame on a gas stove. The method described below is SO EASY, can be used to roast and skin peppers for any dish, and requires no more equipment than your broiler. You will be amazed at the simplicity of this procedure.

We will also roast the eggplant which will again enhance its flavor. Also, eggplant tends to act as a sponge when frying, and roasting it first will eliminate the need for so much oil. You will be happy with this dish! It can be used in different ways, and you will see how easy it is to roast peppers. This antipasto is light, yet buttery tasting – without actually adding butter – and so delicious. I have added just a touch of fresh lemon juice to balance the flavors with a little acidity. This addition, I feel, is important. Aside from balance, the lemon adds complexity and freshness. Don’t you agree that a crusty bread merits a very necessary invitation to this party for dipping into the luscious sauce? Mmmmm. This recipe is full of nutrients and ALL VEGGIE! TROPPO BELLA!

Let’s begin!




4 peppers – one of each color: green, yellow, red, orange

Olive oil for brushing

Arrange the 4 peppers whole on a baking sheet – brush with olive oil on all sides.

Peppers Eggplant_02_s

Place pan in oven under broiler as close as you can get to the broiler without touching it.

When one side starts to blotch and blacken, using tongs turn the peppers and blacken each side. See photo. Watch them carefully, and do not let peppers get too black or scorch. Results are rapid. Don’t walk away. This is not a time to call your best friend to brag that you are roasting your own peppers. FOCUS!

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When finished, using tongs, place the peppers in a bowl and quickly cover tightly with plastic wrap for 15 minutes. This will steam the skins and make removal easy.

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Peel all of the skins off the peppers. They will slide off easily. Assist with a fork if needed.

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Remove the stem from each pepper – this will practically fall off. Scrape the seeds off with a fork. You don’t want to see seeds in this dish.

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Cut the peppers into large pieces- 2-3 inches. Do not chop in small pieces. See photo.

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Set aside.

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1 Med.-Large Eggplant – skinned & sliced, ready for pressing (see below)

Olive oil for brushing

Kosher Salt

Slice lengthwise in 1/2 in. thick slices – usually 4-6.

Peppers Eggplant_01_s

Then press the eggplant for a couple of hours as described in instructions in my post for Pasta Alla Norma <(Click to link directly to this post) This dish is sweet and you do not want any bitterness to detract from the sweet buttery flavor.

After pressing, place eggplant slices in pan and brush with oil. Sprinkle with a little Kosher salt. Roast at 425 degrees for 12 minutes. Turn once halfway through.

Cut eggplant into large pieces.

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2 tbsp. oil

3 cloves garlic sliced lengthwise

Peppers Eggplant_10_s

2 1/2 c. Sliced Baby Bella or Cremini Mushrooms ( these give an earthier flavor)

Roasted Peppers

Roasted Eggplant

3/4 c. White Wine

1 tbsp Fresh Lemon Juice

1 tbsp Fresh Oregano (2 tsp if dried)

1/2 c. Fresh Flat Leaf Parsley

1 tsp Kosher Salt or to taste

Freshly Ground Black Pepper to taste

Fresh chopped basil for garnish

Saute garlic in oil. When just becomes golden, add mushrooms and saute til just tender.

Peppers Eggplant_11_s

Add eggplant, peppers, wine, lemon and herbs, salt, pepper at med. high. Stir occasionally and let wine cook down. A lovely sauce should remain. If you “must” add butter, this would be the time – but only a tablespoon. I find it rich, delicious, and buttery without the added fat.

Peppers Eggplant_12_sPeppers Eggplant_13_s

Garnish with fresh basil.

Don’t forget the crusty bread and a lovely crisp white wine of your choice. I would suggest a Pinot Grigio – crisp and cold – ON THE PATIO!

Peppers Eggplant_14_s

Isn’t it gorgeous? This is so easy, and you will have created a beautiful and authentic dish with so many uses and much versatility. You can serve this warm or cold as an antipasto, first course, or side dish. Try something different by adding roasted zucchini, broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, butternut squash, and/or roasted potatoes – even sweet potatoes. Serve it over roast chicken – so many options – all good for you.  Buon Appetito!




Food Photos By Tommy Hanks Photography

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