This spaghetti with clams recipe takes the tasty components of Clams Casino and transforms it into an easy weeknight (almost-one-pot) meal. Smokey bacon, sweet garlic and peppers, savory oregano, and the crunchy breadcrumbs all come together to create a clam pasta recipe worthy of company.
Take your pick of traditional spaghetti or your favorite whole-grain variety. Not all pasta dishes can easily substitute one for the other, but here the nuttiness of a whole-grain noodle offers additional depth to the briny sauce and smokey bacon. So… (casino) dealer’s choice.
Clams will vary in brininess depending on where they’re from, so taste and season your pasta with salt accordingly. And be sure to scrub those clams very clean to avoid a gritty sauce.
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Why This Spaghetti with Clams Recipe Works
All of the components of this dish come together to hit the right balance in both flavor and texture. Briny clams are balanced with smoky bacon, vibrant lemon, aromatic shallot and garlic, and of course some butter for richness.
Then the al dente pasta and clams get topped with bacon-y breadcrumbs for the perfect crispy finish.
Test Kitchen Tips
- Freeze the bacon for 5 to 10 minutes prior to dicing. The bacon will partially freeze which will make it easier to dice.
- The red bell pepper, shallot, and garlic can all be prepped ahead of time. Store ingredients together in a glass container with a tight fitting lid in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
Ingredients in this Clam Pasta
We like to use whole-wheat pasta, but we’re a bit picky when it comes to whole-wheat pasta. It can make or break a dish, and for that reason we like to use Jovial 100% Organic Einkorn Whole-Wheat Pasta. It’s got amazing flavor and texture and is the closest to regular pasta we have been able to find.
You’ll need about 3 slices of bacon for the recipe. Store any remaining uncooked bacon in a zipper-lock bag in the refrigerator. Bacon will last this was in the refrigerator for up to 1 week or in the freezer for up to 6 months.
If you can find it, use whole-wheat Panko. It’s got more nutritional value and we think more flavor. Regular Panko will also work. Find Panko near the breadcrumbs or the Asian ingredients.
This recipes uses a mix of produce to add different layers of flavor. For starters, two bold aromatics—shallot and garlic—create the base of the dish. Oregano adds savoriness while diced red pepper adds a bit of sweetness. And finally, parsley and lemon brighten up the dish.
Kosher salt and red pepper flakes are the only spices you’ll need for this dish. We like to use Morton Course Kosher Salt in the test kitchen because of its grain-size. If you use Diamond Crystal, you’ll likely need to add more.
For this recipe, Littleneck Clams are perfect. Look for them at the seafood counter at your most trusted grocery store or at your local fish market. As soon as possible, transfer the clams to a clean bowl and cover with damp paper towels. Place the bowl inside another bowl filled with ice and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, replenishing the ice at least daily.
Dry white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio, pairs beautifully with this clam pasta. Add a splash to the pasta then pour yourself a glass, dinner is served!
- We think butter is delicious in this dish, but feel free to substitute with olive oil.
- Red bell pepper adds a lovely sweetness, but any color will do. Green bell pepper will give it a slight Southern spin.
- We really love fresh oregano here—for being a fresh herb, it adds a lot of warm savoriness. If you can, use fresh, but in a pinch you can use 1 teaspoon dried oregano. Store leftover fresh oregano wrapped in lightly damp paper towels placed in a zipper-lock bag.
- Feel free to swap out the spaghetti with linguine and make a classic linguine with clams dish.
More Seafood Recipes to Try…
- Our Seafood Soup is light, fresh and loaded with all types of seafood.
- Try our springy Salmon Chowder! It’s much lighter than traditional chowders but loaded with flavor.
- If you love shrimp, you’ve gotta try our Rich & Creamy Shrimp Bisque. It features a quick homemade shrimp stock that is out of this world.
Spaghetti with Clams a la Casino
- Kosher salt
- 12 ounces dry whole-wheat or semolina spaghetti
- 2 ½ tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
- ⅓ cup whole-wheat Panko breadcrumbs
- 4 ounces (3 slices) thick-cut bacon, diced
- 1 lemon, zested and juiced
- 1 cup diced red bell pepper
- ½ cup diced shallot
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 2 dozen littleneck clams, scrubbed clean under cold running water
- ⅔ cup dry white wine, such as Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc
- 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil; season generously with salt. Cook pasta until al dente according to package instructions; drain, reserving ½ cup pasta water.
- Melt ½ tablespoon butter in a small skillet over medium heat. Add Panko and cook, stirring constantly, until golden brown and toasted, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl.
- Add bacon to a heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until fat has rendered and bacon is crisp, 5–7 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer bacon to bowl with breadcrumbs. Stir in ½ teaspoon lemon zest and set aside.
- Add bell pepper, shallot, garlic, oregano, and red pepper flakes to bacon drippings and cook over medium heat until vegetables begin to soften, about 2 minutes.
- Add clams in an even layer, then stir in wine. Bring to a simmer, then reduce heat to medium-low. Cover pot with a tight-fitting lid and simmer until clams have opened, about 15 minutes. Using tongs, transfer cooked clams to a bowl (discard any that did not open).
- Bring clam cooking liquid to a boil over medium heat. Stir in remaining 2 tablespoons butter and reserved pasta water. Add cooked pasta and clams and toss thoroughly, yet gently, to combine. Stir in 2 tablespoons lemon juice and parsley; season to taste with salt and red pepper flakes.
- Transfer to a serving dish and sprinkle reserved bacon-breadcrumbs generously over the top.