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.

spaghetti with clams, breadcrumbs and diced red bell pepper and parsley

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

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. 

Use any leftover pasta to make our Gouda Spaghetti Carbonara or our Browned Garlic Butter Noodles.

Bacon

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. 

Panko

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. 

dry whole wheat spaghetti, herbs, lemon, minced garlic, diced bell pepper, diced shallot, cubed bacon, clams, wine and parsley set out on a counter

Produce

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.

Spices 

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 it’s grain-size. If you use Diamond Crystal, you’ll likely need to add more. 

Clams

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. 

Wine

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!

spaghetti with clams, breadcrumbs and diced red bell pepper and parsley in a large white bowl with serving spoons set in it and wine in short glasses set around

Substitutions

  • 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

Print Recipe
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 35 mins
Total Time 45 mins
Yield 4 servings
Category Fish and seafood
Cuisine American/Italian
Author Jenni Ridall Lata

Directions

This clam pasta recipe takes the delicious 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 worthy of company.

Ingredients

  • Kosher salt
  • 12 ounces dry whole-wheat or semolina spaghetti
  • 2 ½ tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • 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
  • cup dry white wine, such as Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley

Instructions

  • 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.
    toasted breadcrumbs in a skillet
  • 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.
    crispy bacon bits in a large pot
  • 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.
    diced bell pepper and shallot cooking in a large pot
  • 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).
    clams in a large pot with diced red bell pepper
  • 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.
    cooked clams, diced red bell pepper and spaghetti in a large pot
  • Transfer to a serving dish and sprinkle reserved bacon-breadcrumbs generously over the top.

Notes

See substitution notes listed in article above. 
Not sure how to clean clams? I use this method for cleaning clams.
To store fresh clams, add them 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.
To keep this totally one-pan, toast the breadcrumbs in the pot before cooking the pasta. 

Nutrition

Serving: 1/4 recipeCalories: 545kcalCarbohydrates: 68gProtein: 22gFat: 20gSaturated Fat: 9gCholesterol: 47mgSodium: 545mgFiber: 10gSugar: 2g
Keywords Clam Pasta, Spaghetti with Clams
Did you make this recipe?Leave a comment below and tag @ZestfulKitchen on Instagram and hashtag it #zestfulkitchen!
spaghetti with clams, breadcrumbs and diced red bell pepper and parsley in a large white bowl with serving spoons set in it and wine in short glasses set around

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About The Author

Lauren Grant is a professional culinary food scientist, food writer, recipe developer, and food photographer. Lauren is a previous magazine editor and test kitchen developer and has had work published in major national publications including Diabetic Living Magazine, Midwest Living Magazine, Cuisine at Home Magazine, EatingWell.com, AmericasTestKitchen.com, and more.

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