Pasta with Clams and Marinara

Date cooked: September 25, 2021

If you are a regular – or semi-regular – reader of my blog you know we cook vegetarian (no beef, pork, chicken, or lamb but seafood is okay) dishes at least once a week. Last year I ran through a lot of tofu recipes but have been looking to go in a different direction occasionally. So, when I saw this Washington Post recipe for pasta with clams and marinara I was intrigued. Intrigued but wary; when I think of clams and pasta I think of steamed clams in their shells with a white wine and garlic sauce. Marinara sauce and clams just don’t didn’t seem right. So I rolled this around my head for a few weeks and tried the title out on people to judge their reaction. No one blanched at the idea so I figured it was worth a try.

This is a very simple recipe and uses a jarred marinara sauce. Is that even something I can do? Our standard homemade marinara comes from Miles Hassel which you can read about here. But for a fast and easy recipe I was game to try jarred sauce. And I do mean simple: only 9 ingredients including water and salt for the pasta. I missed getting the kalamata olives in the setup picture.

Ingredients for pasta with clams and marinara

I wanted to get a good marinara sauce so I checked out some websites including America’s Test Kitchen to find a good one. The top sauce referenced over and over is Rao’s (pronounced Ray-Os I think). But another favorite was the Victoria marinara in the picture above.

The prep work consists of measuring out 2 spices, chopping up the olives and draining/reserving the clam broth

Pasta with clams and marinara mis en place

While the pasta is cooking, sauté the fennel seeds and red pepper flakes with some olive oil in a large nonstick skillet. Then stir in the marinara, olives, and clam broth and simmer stirring fairly regularly for around 5 minutes. As it simmered I thought “Yum! pizza spaghetti”; those fennel seeds lend that pizza aroma.

By now the pasta should be al dente; drain it and add it along and the clams to the sauce. Gently toss until the pasta is coated.

Pasta with clams and marinara ready to serve.

Serve once the pasta is coated and the clams are warmed through. Some wine, a simple salad, and bread with olive oil and you have a very nice dinner.

Despite no fresh ingredients this dish is delicious. So good we doubled the and served it at a dinner party a few weeks later. At that time we used the Rao’s marinara which is fantastic and deserves the raves it gets. But it is a bit salty; so if you avoid sodium, this may not be the best sauce for you.

This sauce can easily be adapted for other uses. We’ve substituted Italian sausage for the clams and chicken broth for the clam broth and had another great dinner.

Rating: ★★★★ 4 stars. Delicious and a real crowd pleaser. And easy to make; perfect for weeknight dinner. If you are looking to try an dish without red meat or fowl and balk at the idea of tofu, give this a try.

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