Serves 4 to 5
Clams are sold live and should be purchased from a trusted seafood monger. Look for closed shells, and they should smell briny like the ocean. Keep your clams in the fridge in a single layer with a damp paper towel on top. Clams that don’t close after being tapped should be discarded.
The name translates to spaghetti with clams and tomatoes. Everything sounds better in Italian.
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 pound spaghetti
Crushed chili flakes
3 to 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 cup dry white wine
2 pounds well-scrubbed littleneck clams
3 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup chopped parsley, plus more to finish
2 cups halved Sungold cherry tomatoes
Bring a large covered pot of water to boil over high heat, and season it with plenty of salt so it's as salty as the ocean. This is for the pasta.
In another large pot, such as a Dutch oven, sweat the onion in lots of olive oil (enough to coat the pan) on medium heat until the onion is translucent but not browned, about 6 minutes.
Meanwhile, cook the pasta until very al dente (a few minutes before what the package says), as we want to finish cooking the pasta in the sauce. Reserve about 2 cups of pasta liquid and drain the pasta; return it to the cooking pot.
To the onion, add the garlic and the crushed chili flakes (heavy pinch to 1/2 teaspoon, depending on how spicy you like it) and the garlic slices to the onions. Sizzle for about 1 minute, until fragrant. We don’t want color on the garlic as it will become bitter.
Add the white wine and clams to the onion mixture. Stir and then Immediately, place a lid on the pan and cook for 3-4 minutes, shaking the pan frequently. Check on the clams and as soon as they open, remove them with tongs to a bowl., leaving the onion and clam juices in the skillet.
Cover the clams to keep them warm. Remove any stubborn clams that haven’t opened after 6 minutes and discard them. They might have been dead on arrival.
Add the butter, the cooked pasta, and about 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking liquid to the clam juices in the pot. Over medium-high heat, toss the pasta with tongs until it is al dente and heated through, adding more pasta liquid as needed to keep it very moist.
Add the parsley, cherry tomatoes, and the zest and juice of the lemon. Taste and balance the pasta for salt, spice, and lemon. The pasta should be juicy so add more pasta of the liquid if it’s all been absorbed.
To serve, transfer the pasta to heated soup plates, top each with some of the clams and any clam juices from the bowl (leaving any sediment behind) and some parsley. Serve immediately.