Linguine with Clams, Bacon and Tomatoes
Updated: Nov 2, 2022
This dish tastes like the sea on a summer day-pasta with clams and smoky bacon and the freshness of cherry tomatoes.
A dish worthy of a dinner party, at about $12 to serve 4 generously.
I sometimes hesitate to make fancy Italian pasta dishes-they just feel too heavy, too rich or are too expensive to prepare. But this dish is light and delicious in the best tradition of Mediterranean cuisine. It’s supposed to be healthy for you (a dietician friend swears by the Mediterranean diet to prevent heart disease) but it is also delicious. If you have fresh cherry tomatoes from your garden or the farmer’s market, it’s a good time to make this dish.
A word on the clams. I made this with 10 ounces of frozen clams and their juice. They tasted fresh and wonderful—much better than canned clams and much easier and cheaper than whole live clams. I paid $6.48 for the clams in this dish, and you can find frozen clams everywhere. If you can’t, you can use 2 cans of whole clams.
The dish is also made with leeks. I will say once again, as I always do, that leeks must be washed correctly to completely remove sand particles. To do this, put sliced leeks in a large bowl of water, and swish them around, then let rest for 15-20 minutes to allow any sand on the leeks to sink to the bottom. (Look at the top portion of the above photo.) Carefully lift out the claims with a strainer or slotted spoon. Don’t skip this step—teeth grinding on sand will destroy your dish.
To make the dish, you will sauté the bacon in olive oil until crisp and add the leeks and garlic, then add the wine and tomatoes. If you don’t use wine, substitute clam juice or seafood broth for the liquid.
Linguine with Clams, Bacon and Tomatoes (Cost $12.93 for 4 servings)
1/3 c Olive Oil ($0.25)
3 slices thick sliced bacon, cut crosswise into strips ($1, Aldi)
4 cloves garlic, pressed (0.10)
2 c. thinly sliced leeks, white and light green parts only ($1.50, Walmart)
1/2 c dry white wine ($0.50)
1 1/2 c. cherry tomatoes, halved ($2, Aldi)
1 10 0z package frozen clams ($6.48, Wild Fork Foods)
Juice of one lemon ($0.25)
1/2 c chopped Italian parsley (0.10)
salt and pepper to taste
12 ounces to 1 pound linguine ($0.50, Walmart)
In large stainless-steel skillet, heat the olive oil. Add the chopped bacon and cook until crisp. Add the drained leeks and cook until they give up liquid and begin to soften. Add 4 cloves pressed garlic and stir for 2 minutes.
2. Boil 5-6 quarts of water in large pot. Salt generously. When boiling, add the linguine and cook 8-10 minutes. Don’t overcook.
3. Add the wine (you may substitute clam juice or broth if you don’t use wine) and the cherry tomatoes to the leeks and bacon mixture and cook for 5 minutes.
6. Add the clams and cook for several minutes more. Now taste and salt and pepper. Add the juice of one lemon.
7. Now drain the linguine and add to the pot. (When I’m cooking for one, I will cook a couple servings of pasta and mix in half the sauce. I’ll refrigerate the sauce and cook two more servings of pasta in the next day or two. That way, I’ll always have a prepared serving in the refrigerator and a fresh version of the dish in a couple of days.)
8. I serve this dish with chopped Italian Parsley and grated Parmesan, and a lemon wedge. A word on cheese and seafood pasta: Italians and your gourmet friends may frown on putting any cheese on a seafood pasta dish. Skip the Parmesan cheese and opt for pine nuts if one of these types will be at the table. Otherwise, I like a little Parmesan and freshly ground black pepper.