Featuring a sauce that's light on fat, but heavy on flavor, this dish is pasta-tively amazing.
Most clam sauces for pasta are heavy on the olive oil and garlic, and light on the vegetables. This low-fat version is teeming with flavor from the reduced clam stock and vegetables.
1 pound cherry tomatoes (about 2 cups)
2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup chopped sweet onions
3 teaspoons chopped garlic, green germ removed
¼ to ½ teaspoon dried red pepper flakes (optional)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, basil, or sweet marjoram
1 pound linguine, preferably made with durum wheat
36 littleneck clams
Wash and quarter the cherry tomatoes. Place them in a 4-cup measure and press down several times. Pour off the seeds and tomato liquid. Heat the olive oil in a medium nonreactive saucepan and add the onions and garlic. Cook over medium-high heat for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove the mixture from the heat and stir in the tomatoes. Cook for 3 minutes over medium-high heat, stirring frequently. Stir in the red pepper flakes and herbs. Cover the pan and set aside.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil, salt it, and add the pasta. Gently boil until the linguine is cooked through but still firm (al dente), 10 to 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, put the clams in a large, shallow, nonreactive saucepan, add 2 to 3 tablespoons water, cover the pan, and cook over high heat for 3 to 5 minutes. After 3 minutes, remove any clams that have opened. Continue steaming until virtually all the clams have opened. Discard any that are still closed. Pour off the clam juice. You should have about 1½ cups. Put the juice in a sauce pan and rapidly boil until it is reduced to ⅓ or ½ cup. Add to the tomato sauce. Take most of the clams out of their shells and add to the tomato sauce. Add salt to taste.
Drain the pasta and serve with the sauce. Garnish with the remaining clams in their shells.
From the "Legal Sea Foods Cookbook" by Roger Berkowitz and Jane Doerfer, illustrated by Edward Koren.