Pasta and Clam Sauce is a wonderful and delicious meal, one enjoyed by many people around the world. In continuing with our summertime recipe theme, I decided this is the perfect meal to finish our series with. Fresh steamed clams are cooked in clam juice and olive oil. Mixed with cans of chopped clams, fresh minced garlic and lemon juice and then poured over a bed of Zero Carb pasta. You can almost hear the ocean waves crashing on the beach as you sit back and enjoy this lemony, garlicky and flavorful clam sauce. And the good news is that it is practically carb-free.
This is a two-fold recipe. In the first half I share with you how to steam fresh clams for the clam sauce. If you can’t find any clams locally then you can substitute with cans of chopped clams. Either way this is a simple recipe and I am sure, if you have shellfish lovers in the family, this will soon become a favorite.
I grew up in a family that loved fresh and steamed clams. Every summer my family would host a neighborhood clam bake (although we ate the clams raw, so I am not sure why it was called a clam bake). so I was fortunate enough to acquire a taste for the salty sweetness of clams at a young age and I have enjoyed them ever since.
How to Choose and Steam Fresh Clams
Let me start by saying you don’t have to use fresh clams for this recipe. Many times locally I have been unable to purchase fresh clams so I use a combination of chopped clams and one can of baby whole clams bought at my local supermarket. When I can get fresh clams I like to use Little Neck Clams-the smallest type of clam you can find. These usually range in size from 1 1/2″ wide to 2″ wide. The next size up are the Cherrystone Clams which range in size from 3″-4″. I would not recommend using Cherrystones because they tend to be tough and will make your sauce chewy. Little Necks are sweet and small enough to not overpower the clam sauce and on a side note, they can also be eaten raw.
When purchasing your clams make sure you get them in a bag that is open. You don’t want to close up the clams because this will kill them and you will end up with dead clams before you even start to cook them. Trust me, this won’t end will for your sauce. When you get home from the market you can place them in a bowl and put some ice on top of the clams. However, don’t soak them in water because this will actually drown the clams (I know, this makes no sense but believe me, this is the way you do it).
When you are ready to start prepping the clams remove them from the refrigerator and start the cleaning process. Fortunately for you, all you need to do is clean the outside of the clam. Using a slightly rough sponge or even a wash cloth, you want to rinse the clams and gently wipe or scrub them. The idea is to remove any sand or grit that might be on the shell. At this time your job of cleaning the clam is done-it is now up to the clam to do the rest!
Place the clams in a bowl or pot and cover with cold water. Let them rest for at least three hours. Yes, you read that right, at least three hours. During this time the clams will release the dirt and sand that is inside the shells. Occasionally you will even see a few bubbles coming up from an clam, it really is interesting to observe. After three hours you can pour the dirty water off and again rinse the clams. You are now ready to make your sauce.
Ingredients for Pasta and Homemade Clam Sauce
- 2 Dozen Fresh Clams OR 3 Cans of Chopped Clams, liquid from the cans reserved
- 1-8 Ounce Bottle of Clam Juice
- 1/4 Cup of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 6 Fresh Garlic Cloves
- Juice of one lemon
- 3-4 Sprigs of Parsley
- 2-8 Ounce Packages of Pasta Zero, drained
How to Make Homemade Clam Sauce
After cleaning the clams, pour the bottle of clam juice into a saute’ pan and add the olive oil. Place over medium heat. When the clam juice starts to boil, gently place the clams in the pan and put the lid on. Boil for a minimum of 5 minutes or until all of the clams have opened. If you see that one or two of the clams have not opened after at least five minutes you can throw these out, they are what we call “bad” clams and cannot be eaten.
Once the clams have opened and the bad ones (if any) are thrown out, remove the opened clams and set aside. Add to the pan the 2 to 3 cans of chopped clams and the liquid they are in. The liquid will add a kick of flavor to the sauce. Also at this time add in the chopped garlic and the juice of one lemon. You can also salt to taste if you feel the sauce needs it.
The pasta I use for this recipe is Pasta Zero which is carb free so we can eat it without the fear of going off our diets. The pasta comes in plastic bags in a liquid that needs to be drained. Reference my Shrimp Alfredo Recipe to follow instructions for preparing the pasta. While the clams are cooking drain the pasta, rinse and let sit in a bowl for approximately ten minutes. There is an odor from the ground Shiratake that the noodles are made from so give yourself at least 10 minutes to rinse, drain, rinse and drain again prior to cooking.
After the clam sauce has simmered and all of the ingredients are well blended add the noodles to the sauce and heat thoroughly, approximately five minutes. At this time if you also used the steam clams you can remove the clams from the shells and add them to the sauce or use some to garnish the plate with. Plate the pasta and sauce, add chopped parsley, a wedge of lemon and a few of the whole clams. Enjoy!
Pasta and Clam Sauce Low-Carb and Keto Friendly
- 2 8 Oz Bags Pasta Zero Shirataki Spaghetti Rinse then soak then rinse again
- 2 Dozen Fresh Clams
- 3 6.5 Ounce Chopped Clams, save the liquid in the cans
- ½ Cup Olive Oil
- 1 8 Ounce Bottle Clam Juice
- 3-4 Sprigs Parsley
- 6 Cloves Chopped Garlic
- Juice 1 Lemon
- Salt to taste
- If using the fresh clams, wipe each one off then let sit for three hours in cold water so the sand and grit removes itself from inside the clams.
- Ten minutes before you start to make the sauce, rinse then drain the Pasta Zero then let the pasta sit in a pot of cold water. Repeat the process again then drain before using.
- When you are ready to start the sauce, pour the clam juice and olive oil into a saute' pan or pot. Place over medium heat on the stove.
- When the liquid starts to boil gently place the clams into the pan and place a lid on top. If not using fresh clams add the canned clams at this time.
- After five minutes check to see if the clams have opened up. Discard any clams that have not opened and remove the opened ones from the pan and set aside. NOTE: You may need to cook the clams a bit longer if most have not opened up yet. Most of them will open at about the same time.
- After the fresh clams are removed add the chopped clams, chopped garlic and the lemon juice to the liquid. If you want to just use a few fresh clams as garnish you can remove the cooked clams from the shell at this time and mix with the canned clams in the pan. If using just canned clams add the lemon juice and garlic to the liquid and simmer for approximately 5 minutes.
- After five minutes add the pasta to the white clam sauce and if using fresh clams, add them back to the pan at this time. Heat for five minutes while stirring once or twice.
- Place a serving of pasta on each plate followed by a spoonful or two of the clam sauce. Sprinkle chopped parsley on top and grate Parmigiano Reggiano on each plate. Garnish with a lemon wedge and 2-3 fresh clams. Enjoy!