Great Meals for a Change

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Linguine with Mussels or Clams Gluten Free

Prep Time: 30 minutesMakes: 8 servings

Fresh shellfish steamed in a garlic and wine stock served over pasta with a garnish of herbs


  • At least 80 littleneck clams, the smaller the better, or at least 6 pounds of cockles
  • OR
  • About 5 or 6 pounds of mussels
  • 1 cup dry white wine, plus a little more if necessary
  • Pinch of Cayenne
  • ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp minced garlic
  • 2 large or 4 small plum tomatoes, peeled, seeded and minced (optional)
  • 2 lbs long pasta, such as linguine or spaghetti (use rice pasta for gluten free option)
  • 1 tsp minced fresh tarragon, or 2 tbsp minced fresh basil or chervil
  • 1 ½ cup roughly chopped parsley


  • Bring large pot of water to a boil.
  • Wash the clams well, scrubbing them with a soft brush if necessary.
  • OR
  • Wash the mussels well, running them under cold water to remove sand and mud; as you clean them scrape off the "beard" - the weedy growth attached to the bottom of the shell - from each one. Discard any with broken shells or which remain open after tapping them lightly.
  • Place the clams or mussels in a broad saucepan or skillet with a cover, along with the wine and cayenne. Cover and turn the heat to high. Cook, shaking the pan occasionally. After 3 minutes check the clams to see if any have opened or after 6-8 minutes check the mussels to see if they have opened. As soon as the majority are open, remove them; don't worry if many are still closed. Transfer the clams or mussels to a bowl. Pass the juice through a sieve lined with cheesecloth to remove all traces of sand.
  • Combine the olive oil and minced garlic in a broad, deep skillet and turn the heat to medium. When the garlic starts to sizzle, salt the water and begin cooking the pasta; you will want it to be quite firm when it's done. Turn the heat under the garlic to low and cook, shaking the pan occasionally, just until the garlic begins to colour, about 5 minutes.
  • Measure the clam or mussel juice; if it is less than 2 cups, add the tomatoes, or as much white wine as you would need to make 2 cups of juice to the garlic in the skillet (do not add the clam juice yet). You can add the tomatoes if you like in any case, but do not add additional wine if you have 2 cups of clam juice. Raise the heat to high and let the mixture bubble for about 2 minutes; stir in the tarragon.
  • Stir in the clams or mussels and cover; cook over high heat until almost all of the clams or mussels are open, another minute or two. (1. Don't worry if some of the clams never open, as often happens with littlenecks; just open them with a paring or similar knife. 2. Discard unopened mussels.) Drain the pasta and toss into the skillet with the garlic; add the reserved clam or mussel juice and cook for 30 seconds, or until the pasta is tender but still firm and the sauce is a pleasing consistency. Stir in the parsley and serve.
Taken from: "How to Cook Everything," by Mark Bittman